How I Rank My Friends

Posted on June 7, 2011


If you’re anything like me, everybody wants to be your friend.  Ring, ring, ring–excuse me, I have to take this call.

Sorry I had to step away, that was another friend calling, asking me to attend a cocktail party and then christen his new yacht.  Unfortunately that’s the same day as my children’s school talent show, and they’ll be disappointed if I miss it–which is why I’ll pretend I didn’t miss it.

With so many invitations and being so popular, how do I decide who to spend my time with?

You can’t let emotion cloud your decision-making.  The only logical step is to create a formula for ranking your friends and helping you decide who is most deserving of your attention.

Upward mobility(UM)–What can this friend do to help me achieve my goals?  Can he help my career in some way?  Does he have important political connections that could help me cover up a murder?  Does he have an attractive wife who’ll need comforting after I help her catch him cheating?  My friend Todd isn’t very connected, and I’m more financially successful–especially since I accidentally got him fired from his last two jobs–but his wife is very attractive, so I’ll give him a UM value of 6 out of 10.

Popularity(POP)–When we go to dinner, are people impressed to see me with this friend?  As we enter, does the crowd quiet and watch in awe as the James Bond theme music plays in everyone’s heads?  Or do they whisper, “Why did Paul invite that guy who isn’t wearing pants to our Mensa party?”  Todd isn’t a winner, but his wife Donna is very attractive.  If the three of us go out to dinner, I try and walk close to Donna and then I drop my keys right in front of Todd, and because he has to bend over to pick them up, he trails Donna and me by a few steps and as we enter the audience doesn’t even know Todd is with us.  For this reason, I think Todd’s association still makes me look pretty good, and I’m willing to give Todd a POP value of 7.

It's all very complicated. I'll spare you the details.

Looks(L)–I prefer a friend to be the same number on the look’s scale of 1 to 10.  I’ll take 1 point lower, but never 1 point higher.  We need to make a solid joint impression as we enter, and if our respective level of looks is too disparate this will be the first thing people will notice as we enter the party and will prevent them from thinking about how dashing I look in my smoking jacket.  Todd seems like a 6 to me, but he did get Donna, so I’ll give him an 8 in the looks department.

Personality(Pe)–Can the friend laugh at my jokes and provide interesting commentary on my vignettes in a manner that doesn’t seem forced or sycophantic?  Many people think they can accomplish this, but the key is whether you can do it forty or fifty times in one evening, especially without being distracted by all the attention I’m giving to your wife.  Todd gets a 7 for his ability to laugh at my jokes, but only a 3 for being distracted by the attention I give Donna.  I’ll split the difference and give him a 5.  (Quit being so jealous, Todd.  You know what we were talking about the whole time?  You.  And how she could have done a lot better than you.  Ha ha, just kidding.  But really, she could have done a lot better than Todd.)

Compliments(C)–I give points for creativity and sincerity when receiving compliments.  It’s nice if you tell me I’m more important to you than your wife, but how about some tears while you say it?  Or how about defining exactly how much more you like me than your wife by promising to rescue me first if all three of us were trapped in a burning building together?  Todd gets a C value of 1 in his ability to say he would save me from a burning building before he saved his wife.

Problems(Pr)–Does the friend call you late at night and waste your time talking about all his problems like mentioning he worries his wife could have done a lot better than marrying him?  When you ask if the problem can wait until tomorrow or request he summarize the main points in a text message, does he remind you that he always listens to your problems and make you feel guilty?  Thanks for making me feel guilty, Todd.  You just scored a Pr value of 1.  Now I feel terrible and need a friend to call and talk it over with.  I can’t call Todd.  Maybe I should call Donna.

  6(UM) + 7(POP) + 8(L) + 5(Pe) + 1(C) + 1(Pr)=28

Todd only scores a 28 out of 60.  You can probably understand why I rarely hang out with Todd anymore…unless Donna is also coming.

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