Dispatches | May 06, 2015


The 2002 Western Conference Finals. The meaning will become clear. Probably.

By Bradley Babendir

I never expected Mr. & Mrs. Smith to feel like an apt metaphor for my relationship with my significant other, Rachel Rowsey. I didn’t expect to wake up on the morning of April 22, 2015 to read an assassination on my character penned by someone I trusted so much. But Mr. Smith didn’t expect Mrs. Smith to try to kill him, either. So I thank Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for their hard work and help getting through this tough time.

Unfortunately, I’m not a trained assassin. Actually, that’s probably a good thing. Being a trained assassin seems like a miserable existence. I’ve watched enough Scandal to know that for sure. Fortunately, Rachel isn’t a trained assassin either, so nobody is going to die as a result of this feud.

Regardless, I cannot stand by while I am accused of things that are simply not true. I was a journalism major for approximately one-quarter of my time as an undergraduate at the University of Missouri, which means I have an obligation to the truth. In Rachel’s column, she says that the “Books Received and Read” score in our relationship puts her up five to nothing.

This, readers and ravenous pursuers of all that is factual, is false. A slander. A lie. In June of 2013, Rachel gave me The Fault in our Stars, a book that I read in its entirety in a timely fashion. In the words of much-maligned Chicago White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson, “you can put it on the board, yes!” That’s one for Bradley. At worst, 5 to 1.

But wait, there’s more! The fifth book to which she refers is The Confessions of Noa Weber, a book which she has not yet finished. I have also not yet finished The Pillars of the Earth. This means the score is either 5 to 2, or 4 to 1. Either way, that’s some big progress for Team Brad. Movin’ on up.

The controversy does not stop there, either. It never does. As Ms. Rowsey mentioned in her column, I also read two of the books for which she is giving herself credit. Technically, I gave them to myself in order to read them alongside her (as was the basis of her column), so they cannot be counted for my score. However, reading those books did cut into my free reading time, which made it harder to finish the books that I was given. I’m not saying the game was rigged, but I’m not not saying it, either. It’s the book club equivalent of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals.

Furthermore, I have to call into question the entire system of scoring itself. A book is not a standard unit of measurement. What really matters, when it all comes down to it, is page count. Tiny babies read tons of books. Because the books they read are tiny. Do those tiny babies deserve credit for reading all those books? No, they don’t. Babies can’t do anything. Rachel, who is not a tiny baby (95% confidence in that statement), has read 1600 pages. I, on the other hand, have read 1348. Yes, I’m still losing. But I’m a lot closer.

But, am I still losing? No. Enter the last truth bomb:

Pure volume statistics never give a fair picture. Efficiency is important. In this case, the number of books read should be considered in the context of the number of books gifted in the first place. And here is where Ms. Rowsey greatly falters. By my count, Rachel has given me three books. I’ve finished (or nearly finished) two. That’s a .667 batting average. Those are all-time great numbers. Triple crown numbers. All-Star. Hall of fame. Meanwhile, I have given Ms. Rowsey 11 books, of which she has finished six. That’s a .545 batting average. Great, elite, Hall of Fame, too. As good as .667? I don’t think so.