Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.


CP: Friends don’t let friends remain puzzled. That’s why I need to clear the air about BFFs with whom I have had long, beneficial and wholly platonic relationships.


RN: You mean, like ours?


CP: Less so in our case. For one, you have been partnered, recently divorced, affianced or hitched in the 30-odd years I’ve known you.


RN: Um, I did meet you when I was in high school. And you forgot to include my most prevalent relationship status of the 1980s and 1990s, single. But I digress.


CP: Still, I’m talking more about bachelors like me. It’s a situation that seems to confound acquaintances. Is this making any sense?


RN: Yes, considering that many people probably assume that we are the Nelson-Pecks. Notice how I got the Nelson in there first.


CP: Your lawfully wedded squeeze doesn’t get to see you half as much as I do, at least during the workweek.


RN: Ergo the phrase, “work spouse.”


CP: The query I get consistently is, “So … you and John (or Mark) have never been partners?”


RN: Well, since those two are both plutonium-grade Husband Material, a part of me thinks that you should be flattered by the question. But the bizarre underlying assumption is that gay men aren’t allowed to maintain close relationships with one another without, ahem, sweating up the sheets.


CP: Right. A parallel for the nongays is the frequent assumption that a straight guy and woman never can be “just friends.”


RN: That notion has always seemed so silly to me, but then again, the Hollywood rom-com machine does its very best to keep it alive and kicking. “When Harry Met Sally,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Friends With Benefits” — the list goes on and on and on.


CP: I wish we could get all post-that. Although I didn’t love “The Imitation Game,” it has a close relationship between Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch that is based on such things as shared intellectual prowess and not wedding bells or the bouncy bed.


RN: Well, Mr. C was playing a gay man, and Mlle Cheekbones’ character was straight, so that changes the paradigm just a smidge. Perhaps a better het-on-het example would be the genuine friendship between Lady Mary Crawley and Tom Branson on “Downton Abbey.” Although I find myself rooting for a romance between the two of them.

CP: Modern up, Lord Nelson. And please tell me you are not still watching that sleep-inducing series.


RN: Still proudly obsessed, thank you very much. I mean, I just can’t walk away from Mrs. Hughes. On the flip side — and I’m generalizing here — do you think that gays and lesbians have a better track record than the straights when it comes to transitioning from romantic relationships into friendships?


CP: Um, no. I see both sides failing and triumphing in that regard in equal measure. And by triumphing, I mean staying friends.


RN: Remember what Cicero said. “Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief.” It must be true. I found it on the Internet.


E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib