“Out of the guys that are here, which one would you date?”

There is a question that inevitably comes up if you are drinking with a large enough number of guys and they are drunk enough.I have never been asked this question in any other situation other than drinking parties here in Japan. It’s a very Japanese kind of question. This isn’t to say that all Japanese people are like this but, from my personal (few) experiences, I have been asked this question 100% (3 out of 3 times). Having been asked this question on a couple occasions, I’ve tried to dissect this question and now, hopefully I can devise the best answer for this question.

The question is “Out of the guys that are here, which one would you date?”

As soon as I am asked this question, I am deer in headlights. I mean, I’m always a deer in headlights when I’m asked a question, but especially with this question. I’ll usually just smile. Behind this smile, the thoughts that go through my head when you ask this question to me and my reasons for not wanting to answer it:

  1. Private Matters: If you like me, then ask me out on a date to get to know me. — This is a conversation that happens between us. But now it’s a public thing.
  2. Hurting Feelings: My opinion isn’t anything to base your self worth on. — I also have really weird taste and it changes frequently.
  3. Indifference: I don’t really care too much. There are more interesting things to exchange opinions on. — I’m also the kind of person that sometimes would rather just NOT know.

The possible reasons for asking that question and I’ve grouped into 4 general topics:

  1. Curious about Status: Rankings and knowing where we fit in the ranking. People are curious. Japanese people are particularly curious about ranking. It could possibly stem for their constant encounters with rankings. Maybe they ask this question, so they can determine what is attractive to women and my experience as a girl should shed some light onto this elusive ranking. This stands in direct opposition on my point #2: please don’t base your self worth on the opinions of a Mariko.
  2. Self Gratification: The person asking this question needs a boost of self esteem.
  3. Enjoyable: The conversation surrounding this topic usually gets everyone excited and the party seems to liven up.
  4. Testing the Waters: The person asking or someone in this group is interested in you but they are simply testing the waters to see if you are interested too.

So, now, I need to decide, based on these 4 possible reasons for asking this question what would satisfy both my reservations about answering the question and their motives for askin it. The possible answers and a little bit of the aftermath:

  1. “I can’t choose because I choose a boyfriend or someone not present.” — This answer will basically says, “I’m avoiding this question because I have someone near and dear to my heart and even thinking of dating another will betray that person.” I haven’t seen this technique used even amongst girls that have boyfriends. This question avoids satisfying all the points except for the determining what is attractive. Rating: 1 out of 7
  2. “I choose person A” (but I’m not being honest) — Choose someone that was mentioned by a previous person and add one trait that is likable. While avoiding and possibily destroying any potential by disregarding any interest that someone may have for you, this answer will satisfy all the reasons for someone asking. While it does nothing to forward your own interests, it doesn’t matter. Rating: 5 out of 7
  3. “I choose person F” (and it’s an honest answer) —Because what do I have to lose? Oh, wait, now this person thinks that I’m into them even when the question was clearly a choose the least evil option. Now our potential friendship is weird. Great. It satifies all the reasons for asking this question but at the cost where you expose yourself too much. Rating: 4 out of 7
  4. NONE “I would date none of y’all fuckers.” — Because I hate this question and I just want to move on. This checks off nothing on the list except maybe if you offered a celebrity that you find gorgeous, like Jake Gyllenhaal. That way people can see what you think is attractive. Rating: maybe 1 out of 7
  5. NONE “I would date none of y’all. But I like certain qualities about each of you.” — If you want to check off nothing on the list except maybe attempt to salvage the ego part. I tried this before. The result wasn’t too positive. But maybe, you can pat the ego on its back and tell each person something that you like about them. Rating: 3 out of 7.
  6. ALL “I would date all of you if you had the balls to ask me on a date.” — While it satifies being true to yourself, this answer makes you sound too open and like you don’t care. In actuality, you simply mean that you don’t really know any of them to know if you are interested in them. This does nothing but avoiding answering the question. Rating: 4 out of 7 which opens the topic to dating culture or romance culture.
  7. Tactic: Turn the question on its head — “Are you asking me because one or all of you want to date me?” — This one gives a bit of a flirtatious and fiery vibe. I like it. I’m going to try it and report to you what happens. Rating: a firey 3 out of 7 points
  8. Tactic: Make it Philosophical — “Why are you asking me this question? What is the point of it?” — Cue the philosophical talk about what young people should be focusing on. Most likely you will sound full of yourself and on a soap box. Rating: a pretentious 2 out of 7 points
  9. Tactic: This is War — “I have someone that I like. But if I said anything, that would ruin the game. [and then redirect]” — This gives you a bit of an mysterious and playful aura, making people more curious. It can boost up people’s confidence as in “Oh wait, she may mean me.” The second part of not saying anything about it after is crucial. You don’t give an answer, but you add to the energy. Rating: A questionable 6 out of 7
  10. Tactic: Distract — Change the subject, because I have an interesting story. — Satisfies the thirst for a better conversation. Offer an interesting story or ask a question to redirect. Rating: 4 out of 7 (if your story or change of subject is well done and interesting)

Evaluating this rating system, there is a major flaw in using this to determine the best mode of action. The flaw is that this rating system gives the same amount of value to all the points of contention, whether those points are personal reservations or reasons that someone asks. Maybe to you, your personal matters are much more important than making things exciting. For others, making social gatherings exciting and fun is more important than the ego.

I hope that diagramming this question like this proves useful to someone at some point. If not, at least it is kind of insightful to see how I viewed this question as an angsty, young adult.

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