As a scientist, it is Sheldon's job to observe the world around him. He doesn't always like what he sees, of course, but that's where he puts his mind to work and tries to solve the problem. He is a man who makes the world a better place, or at least he likes to think so, though the world hardly seems appreciative.
All the same, it is his duty to understand his surroundings and, sometimes unfortunately, the other humans in them.
Which is why, after Leonard explained to him exactly what Doctor Summers had meant when he'd given Sheldon his number, he'd called him and arranged a meeting.
He did not wish to take Doctor Summers up on his proffer of sex. Instead, he merely wished to question him as to why he had proffered it in the first place. Therefore, when the man had shown up at the apartment, Sheldon had let him in, followed the social convention of offering him a beverage, and then asked, "Why do you want to mate with me?"
"Uh, what?" Doctor Summers had asked, and Sheldon had wondered how he had gotten his doctorate if he usually spoke like that. It was an indictment of the public education system if he'd ever seen one. Honestly, if even those with PhDs were speaking that way these days, he feared for the masses.
"No procreation can come from the joining of our genitals," Sheldon had explained. "I have a penis, you have a penis. I hope I don't need to explain the incompatibility there to you. So why do you want to, for lack of a more scientific term, 'Get in my pants?'"
"Um," Doctor Summers had began again, and once again, Sheldon had cringed. "Because you're cute?"
"I am?" Sheldon had asked, surprised. "I'm not very symmetrical."
"You look symmetrical to me," Doctor Summers had countered in what Sheldon supposed, having heard it in films on occasion, was supposed to be a seductive voice.
"One of my testicles is two millimeters larger than the other."
"I simply fail to understand the biology of it," Sheldon had explained once again. "I understand why men and women wish to mate. Procreation is an instinct that all animals have. It's good for the survival of the species. But I'm a male, and you're a male, and therefore, procreation is out of the question. I do not understand why you'd wish to mate with me when you have many qualities that western civilization has trained women of our generation to find attractive. You could be spreading your seed amongst them, and yet, you wish to mate with me when I so clearly lack a uterus."
Doctor Summers had stared at him for a long moment, then said, "I thought this was a date."
"A date? No, of course not. This is a scientific inquiry."
"Yes. I am trying to understand why you would want to mate with me."
"I didn't want to mate with you, I wanted to have sex with you. You know, for fun?"
"For fun? I don't understand."
Doctor Summers had stared at him again, then explained, "People like to have sex because it feels good, not just to make babies."
"I reject that conclusion," Sheldon had said. "If they wanted fun, they could simply masturbate. The only reason to actually engage in intercourse is to fertilize an egg."
"Sheldon...have you never had sex before?"
"I'd prefer it if you'd address me as, 'Dr. Cooper,' and yes, as it so happens, I have. Once. She was one of my mentors when I wrote my first thesis. I didn't really want to, but she had said that it was a non-optional social convention that every male must eventually have sex, and so we did. It was pleasant enough of an experience, I suppose, though I've not wished to repeat it since. At any rate, that is neither here nor there and you still have not answered my question beyond stating that I am, to use your word for it, 'cute.'"
"Yes, that's usually what 'cute' means. I still fail to see what biologically drives you to attempt to mate with me."
"Uh, listen, Doctor Cooper, I came here for a date, not to explain to you why I'm gay, okay? So I'll see you around the university."
"I've upset you."
"Social convention dictates I should apologize, though I don't see why I should. As a fellow scientist, you should understand my inquiry."
"Sheldon, you're cute, okay? You're an attractive man and I guarantee you that I'm not the only person, male or female, who has wanted to sleep with you, and it has nothing to do with mating. People get married to mate. They go on dates to have sex."
"You mean to tell me men and women want to sleep with me?"
"Yeah, Cooper. I hate to break it to you, but dating and sex are, for the most part, non-optional social conventions."
"Fair enough," Sheldon had said, and shook his hand before showing him to the door.
Though he knows many in his situation would have taken Doctor Summers up on his offer of coitus, Sheldon has never liked to go into situations unprepared. If he's to begin dating, males or females, he must do the thing properly.
Sheldon is, at first, stumped as to how to go about researching dating, given his lack of experience in the area, so he turns to his friends.
Rajesh, of course, offers no help, being that he can't even speak to women, much less actively date them. Wolowitz is no help either, unless of course, Sheldon is to accept his hypothesis that, "Women like to be asked to remove their panties in public places," as valid, which he does not.
Leonard, though, fresh off of his relationships—as short as they were—with Penny and Leslie, does offer some help.
"Girls like nice guys," he says. "Or that's what they all tell me, anyway, right before they tell me I'm such a good friend and ask me to dog-sit while they go out on dates with Tall, Dark, and Moronic."
"Yes, but 'nice' is such an ambiguous term. Specifics, Leonard. You're a physicist. You should know how important specifics are to an experiment."
Leonard frowns in thought before answering, "They like guys who observe all the social conventions, optional or otherwise."
"Paying attention when they talk."
"What if I'm not interested?"
"Do it anyway."
"Isn't that lying? Feigning interest when really the mold growing on the carpet is far more interesting to me than the woman?"
"Social conventions baffle me."
"Sheldon, if you're not interested in dating, then why are you even asking?"
"Because it has come to my attention that some people, members of both sexes, find me attractive. And clearly my DNA carries the capacity for superior offspring, so if these people wish to mate with me, why wouldn't I do it?"
"Is this about what happened in the cafeteria at work? Because you can't technically mate with Doctor Summers, you know."
"Yes, Leonard. I understand basic biology."
"So, um," Leonard says, suddenly not looking him in the eye, "which sex are you going to be testing your eventual hypothesis on?"
"I'm just asking...I mean, I've known you for a long time and you've never really shown an interest in men or women, so..."
"You're asking if I'm gay," Sheldon deduces.
"I will be conducting the experiment with both sexes," Sheldon says. "After all, that is the only truly scientific way to go about it. The only trouble is finding a control group, though I suppose I could ask Koothrappali if he knows any Hijra."
"The third sex, sometimes referred to as 'eunuchs,' who inhabit India and Bangladesh. I suppose the chances are remote, but they would serve as a decent control group."
"I don't really think they date much, Sheldon."
"All the same, being neither male nor female, they would serve a control group function quite well."
"Now, moving on. Assuming I've managed to feign attention and the man or woman has agreed to have intercourse with me, how exactly does one go about pleasing their partner?"
Leonard stares at him for a long moment, then says, quite emphatically, "This conversation is over."
"I'll put a tie on the door," Sheldon says solemnly to Leonard's retreating form.
Leonard waves his hand vaguely in acceptance, and Sheldon makes a note in his composition book of what he learned.
"So let me get this straight," Wolowitz says around a mouthful of Chinese food. "You want to start dating?"
"You act as though I'm not a sexual being," Sheldon answers.
"You're not," Howard says flatly. "I'm the hound dog of the group, Leonard is the hopeless romantic, Raj is the one with the pathological inability to speak to women, and you're asexual. That's the accepted paradigm."
"Sometimes, paradigms shift," Sheldon counters. "And my hypothesis is that, under the right conditions, I can cause coitus to happen between myself and another human being."
"Well, just don't try to seduce any women while I'm around. It'll taint your results because none of them will go for you when I'm around."
"Fine. Then on the occasions when I'm conducting the experiment in your presence, I'll choose male partners."
"Male—what? You're dating men, too?"
"And Hijra, if Raj's parents will ever get back to me."
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Raj asks. "Just because I'm Indian, it doesn't mean I know any eunuchs."
"Which is why I asked your parents to ask around and see if any were going to be visiting Pasadena soon," Sheldon answers.
"I think it's nice that Sheldon's dating," Penny offers as she returns from the kitchen.
"Thank you," Sheldon says, lifting his fork in mini-salute to her. "Would you like to be one of my test subjects?"
"Not even a little," she says. "But good luck."
"Anyone else?" Sheldon asks. "Wolowitz? Koothrappali? Leonard? It's much easier if I don't have to go out and find the subjects on my own."
"No," Leonard and Wolowitz chorus as Raj shakes his head.
Sheldon makes a note in his composition book and vows to conduct his first experiment by the end of the week.
Part of the scientific method is to choose subjects at random, so as he and Leonard enter the cafeteria Monday for lunch, Sheldon closes his eyes, spins around, and stops when he gets dizzy. He finds himself pointing at a small waif of a woman with dark hair and even darker eyes. She's reasonably attractive, or at least he supposes so, and he decides she is to be the first subject.
"What are you doing?" Leonard asks.
"Finding my first test subject."
"If you're really that interested, why don't you just talk to Doctor Summers? You already know he's into you."
"That's not very scientific," Sheldon points out. "The goal is to begin with seduction. Doctor Summers has already, however inadvertently, been seduced."
"I'm like a magnet to that man, Leonard. The flame to his moth. The Scully to his Mulder."
"Someone's ego is showing."
"Don't be silly, Leonard. The ego is a part of the brain, if one is to believe Freud, and unless I am in desperate need of a visit to the hospital, mine is not visible."
"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go seduce that woman."
Leonard waves him off, so Sheldon makes his way to the woman's table and says, "Hello. May I sit here?"
"Sure," she says, not looking up.
"I see you're having a banana. Would you like to hear an interesting fact about the banana?"
"Not really," she answers.
"Oh," Sheldon says, surprised. People usually love his interesting facts about various fruits and vegetables. "Very well. Would you like to tell me an interesting fact about your banana?"
"Yeah. It's going to be lodged in your left nostril pretty soon if you don't stop bothering me."
Sheldon frowns. Never one to give up, he points out, "That's actually a physical impossibility. The banana's circumference is larger than that of my nostril, and so it will never fit. Now, perhaps, if you were considering putting it into a different orifice than my nose, it might work. I hear the anus is remarkably stretchable, for instance—"
Two minutes later, Sheldon joins Leonard, Howard, Raj, and Leslie at their usual table. A piece of banana drips out of his nose and down onto his hamburger. In unison, all four of them push their own trays away in disgust.
When Sheldon has washed the banana off his face and returned to his office, he makes a note in his composition book of exactly what happened and what went wrong, adjusting the variables to ensure success on his next experiment.
He decides to try non-scientists for his next experiment. Surely seducing the unwashed masses will be easier than seducing someone with a PhD. There is, of course, the obvious flaw in that logic, given that Doctor Summers holds a doctorate and apparently finds him, "cute," but anomalies do happen and sometimes scientists must simply accept what is currently unexplainable even as they search for answers to other things.
He decides to try a male this time, as well, for diversity's sake, and so he finds himself at a political rally supporting gay marriage.
Sheldon himself has no opinion on the matter at all, but there are homosexuals in nice suits there, so he supposes it's better than going to a gay club.
Unfortunately, this too has a problem. Most of the men there already have mates, given that they're campaigning for marriage, and so once again, Sheldon finds himself home alone that evening with his composition book, taking diligent notes in the hope that his next experiment will do better.
The third time turns out to be the charm. It's actually Leonard who spots her, sitting across the room in the local Big Boy. She's tall and blonde and dumb as soup, but she overhears the two of them talking string theory and sidles up to the table, twirling her hair.
"Hi," she says, holding out her hand. "I'm Ginger, like the spice, not the girl."
"Leonard. And this is my friend Sheldon."
Sheldon realizes that this is another chance to test his hypothesis, so he quickly tries to seem interested in her thick valley accent and the useless prattle coming out of her mouth in it.
"Shelly, huh? Anyone ever call you Shelly?"
"My mother and my sister," he answers. "But tell me about yourself."
He lets himself zone out as she rambles on about how tough it is sometimes to be both rich and beautiful, then says, "That's interesting. Tell me more."
Wolowitz taught him that and he's found it to be quite effective, at least with women. They never seem to be able to tell when they're being ignored and as long as he chimes in with it before their pauses go on for too long, they're generally content to just keep talking with minimal input from him.
When she has finally exhausted herself and even Leonard seems to be having a hard time hiding his boredom, Sheldon says, "That's so fascinating. Would you like to come back to our apartment?"
Leonard glares at him, clearly unhappy with his chosen mate, but the point is not to please Leonard, the point is to please both his partner and himself during coitus, thus proving his hypothesis.
When they arrive back at the apartment, Leonard makes an excuse and heads over to Penny's instead, for which Sheldon is grateful.
"Wow," she says as she looks around the living room. "You guys sure have a lot of toys, huh?"
"They're collectibles," he points out, then asks, "Would you like to see my bedroom?"
She laughs, light and hollow, just like she is, and says, "Sure."
What follows are the ten most awkward minutes of Sheldon's life.
Never having been comfortable with touch—he suspects this is due to the fact that he subconsciously remembers being cramped inside his mother's uterus with his sister wrapped around him for nine months—he has spent most of his life until this point avoiding it whenever possible, and letting her touch him like this now is about as un-erotic of a stimulus as he can imagine.
Besides that, once the coitus actually begins, her large breasts are in the way and her voice is even more annoying than before, and by the time it's over with, Sheldon is thinking maybe he should just forget the whole thing and go back to masturbation.
Still, he is a scientist and scientists don't give up on their experiments, especially not after a semi-successful trial, and so he takes diligent notes on the encounter in his composition book and turns the water up a little hotter than usual in the shower in an attempt to sterilize his body again.
"I can't believe you had sex with a girl that beautiful and didn't enjoy it," Wolowitz laments over a game of Halo.
"How would you know how beautiful she is? You never met her," Leonard points out.
"Yes, but in my head, not only did I meet her, but I stole her away from Sheldon, met up with Penny, and the three of us did the nasty all night long."
"She's really not that good in bed," Sheldon comments. "Granted, I don't have much to compare it to, but the entire experience was less than satisfactory."
"So you didn't...?"
"Oh, I did, but it was only by sheer force of will."
"You can—on command?"
"You sound surprised. A mind as powerful as mine and you don't think I can cause myself to ejaculate by brain waves alone?"
"Can you teach me?" Howard asks. "Because my wrist could use the break."
Sheldon sighs. "It's not something I care to discuss with you."
"Thank God," Leonard says. "And anyway, Sheldon, maybe the reason you didn't enjoy sleeping with her isn't that she wasn't good in bed, maybe it was just that you prefer men."
"I suppose that's always possible, though it hardly seems biologically sound. Even assuming that I can eventually find a way to understand the biology of homosexuality, there's still the question of why evolution would take an individual such as myself and cause him to not want to spread his seed. Why wouldn't biology want me to make another individual like myself?"
"It's a mystery," Leonard says dryly. "But still an option to consider. And in that train of thought, there's always Doctor Summers. Blaine is a very nice man."
"You still fail to grasp how sleeping with him would ruin my experiment. Have you no respect for the scientific method?"
"I respect it," Leonard insists, "but dating doesn't necessarily have to be scientific. He likes you, you clearly like him..."
"What? I most certainly do not."
"Sheldon, the man asked you out and you responded by conducting an inquiry and launching a full-scale scientific experiment. You like him."
"I accept your premise, but I reject your conclusion."
"Reject all you want, just get over yourself and sleep with him already."
Sheldon's next two experiments have results hardly worth mentioning. The first, a girl, throws her soda in his face when, realizing he was rapidly losing her, he had become desperate and asked her to remove her panties as Wolowitz had instructed him.
The second had gone slightly better, a fully-fledged date with a large, muscular male, and had even ended with a good night kiss, but as they separated, Sheldon saw no dilation of the man's pupils and had realize that this, too, was a failure.
He is taking notes on his latest disaster of a trial in the cafeteria one Tuesday at lunchtime when Doctor Summers joins him at his table.
"Still doing that experiment, Cooper?"
"Yes," Sheldon replies, not looking up from his notes. "So far there has been one semi-success, actually."
"Yes. I successfully seduced and engaged in intercourse with a twenty-five year old female from the valley."
"Oh. Well...congratulations, then, I suppose."
"Congratulations? I haven't proven anything yet. Why would you congratulate me when I so clearly have not finished my experiment?"
"I meant on the sex."
"Oh. That. It was most unpleasant. She smelled of French perfume and marijuana. My asthma almost started acting up in the middle of it."
Doctor Summers shakes his head. "And has it honestly never occurred to you to just date like a normal person?"
"Normal per—good Lord, I don't track you down at your lunch table and insult you, do I? Normal person. I'd have to drop eighty IQ points and be hit on the head repeatedly several times to become a normal person."
"Fine. Like a sane person, then. A sane person would've had dinner and a DVD ready when they invited me over, not a list of questions and a hypothesis."
"Because it was a date, Sheldon. That's what people do on dates."
"Yes, I've become aware. It also usually ends with a good night kiss."
"Or something else."
"By which you mean coitus?"
"Is that what you wanted when you came over that night? Did you intend to have sex with me?"
"Well, I was hoping..."
"Were I the kind of person who indulged himself in such things, I might be flattered."
"And you really don't want to have sex with me?"
"The rules of my experiment dictate—"
"Forget the experiment."
"Forget the experiment? Are you out of your mind? I am a scientist. Scientists don't just 'forget' their experiments."
"Shut up," Doctor Summers says, and then he leans right across the cafeteria table and presses their lips together.
Sheldon stares at him as he lowers himself back into his seat, then hisses, "That was highly unprofessional."
"Your pupils are dilated. That indicates arousal."
"Yes, it does."
Sheldon gapes at his forthrightness, then closes his notebook and says, "I believe this meeting is over. Good day."
Sheldon has never been one to care for romance or any application of the color red when it is meant to imply love, especially since everyone knows that red causes anger. Just look at the matadors of Spain. Their capes are red for a reason.
But still, it is hours before he manages to erase Doctor Summer's kiss from his thoughts and even longer before he is able to completely relax and return his focus to his experiment.
But finally, a week later, he has another successful trial. It's a man who works in engineering with Wolowitz and after he calls him an oompa loompa, he and Sheldon end up stumbling through the apartment to Sheldon's bedroom and engaging in coitus. Having researched it thoroughly, Sheldon understands it to be a success despite the man's anger at him over the "oompa loompa" remark. It doesn't really make sense to him that someone could be angry and receive pleasure from the object of their anger at the same time, but he thanks the man profusely for the pleasant experience and successful trial anyway before showing him to the door.
Leonard stares at him blankly as he adjusts his robe, and wordlessly, Sheldon returns to his bedroom to take notes.
The next morning, Sheldon drops by Doctor Summers's office on the pretext of asking him to check over the figures he has come up with in his latest experiments. He knows some physicists like Leonard and Leslie Winkle (if, in fact, she can be called a physicist, which Sheldon maintains she can not) often have the mathematicians check their figures, though he's never needed it. His math is flawless despite the incident with his board and Leonard's booty call.
Still, the more and more the thinks about Doctor Summers, the more and more he wonders if he shouldn't re-focus his research there instead. He has already proven that both men and women find him attractive enough to sleep with, and yet he still can not understand why Doctor Summers gave him his phone number that day in the cafeteria.
He goes at around the time Doctor Summers is usually in the cafeteria, assuring that he is left alone in the office, and though he knows it is wrong, Sheldon uses the time to go through his things, searching for some kind of clue. A scientist always researches before he draws conclusions, and Sheldon feels as though this is the last step towards the inevitable analyzing of collected data stage.
He's just finishing going through a page of equations and is trying to open a locked drawer when he hears a throat clear behind him. He turns, startled, and finds Doctor Summers staring at him with his arms folded across his chest.
"Cooper, what are you doing?"
"Would you believe me if I said research for my experiment?"
"What? Can't a man admire another man's equations?"
"No, Sheldon. You can't. That door was shut for a reason. That drawer is locked for a reason. This is an invasion of privacy."
"Yes, and I've been told that people don't like that."
"No, they don't. So get out."
"You're angry at me."
"Yeah, I am."
"I thought you liked me."
Doctor Summers shakes his head. "Just go back to the physics department and stay out of my office."
"Your equations were lovely."
And so that evening, he finds himself telling Leonard what happened while Leonard gives him an I told you so look hardly befitting a man of his intelligence.
"...and he kicked me out of his office," he concludes. "Can you believe that? The man finds me sexually attractive but one small invasion of privacy and he throws me out like yesterday's microscope."
"And this upsets you?" Leonard asks.
"Well, yes, of course it does."
"It's just a disappointment, is all. I had grown used to his attentions."
"You like him."
"Leonard, don't be absurd. There is absolutely no evidence to support that hypothesis."
"That hypothesis has nothing but support. That theory is more proven than gravity and evolution combined."
"All right. Never let it be said that I am not a thorough scientist. Lay forth your data."
"Okay," Leonard says slowly, "let's start with the fact that him being attracted to you caused you to not only launch this whole experiment in the first place, but it caused you to change your view of the world."
"My world view has not changed."
"You had sex with a man and liked it. Was that part of your world view before?"
Sheldon pauses. "Continue."
"Okay, how about the fact that he kissed you in the middle of the cafeteria at work and you kissed him back?"
"I didn't kiss him back. I merely allowed myself to be kissed."
"Either way, your pupils were dilated afterwards."
Sheldon gasps, scandalized. "They most certainly were not!"
"Yes, they were. You were into him. And snooping in his office? Telling him his equations were lovely? Sheldon, you like him."
"You can't really draw that conclusion from the evidence. Perhaps I'm just a homosexual."
"Why can't you be both? A homosexual who has feelings for Doctor Summers?"
"Because...I said so. It's my experiment and I reject your outsider's conclusions."
Leonard sighs. "Fine, Sheldon. I give up. Take your data and analyze it on your own."
"I intend to. And my conclusions will be well thought-out and scientifically sound. As opposed to yours. Which are not."
"Yeah, I got that."
So Sheldon gathers up his notes and retreats to the privacy of his bedroom to study them.
Sheldon must admit that, given the data available, it is likely that he is a homosexual. Having not enjoyed his two encounters with women before at all and having enjoyed his encounter with a man quite immensely, logic tells him that for some reason, his biology has dictated that he should pursue penis over vagina, and who is he to argue with that kind of science?
However, the question of Doctor Summers still remains unanswered. Though Sheldon respects Leonard somewhat as a colleague and friend, he is not above calling his theories garbage when that's what they are, and surely Leonard's theory about his potential feelings for Doctor Summers is just that.
Though, the man does smell nice, not a hint of marijuana on him, which makes being around him so much easier on Sheldon's asthma. And he certainly is attractive, Sheldon supposes, at least according to western civilization's standards. And, if Sheldon is absolutely honest with himself—which as a scientist, he must be—their kiss was very sensual for him, despite its inconvenient locale.
Still, he can't think of one scientifically sound reason to engage in coitus with Doctor Summers.
Except that he wants to.
"Doctor Summers," Sheldon says as he takes a seat in his office. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
"You said it was important."
"It is. You see, my experiment has finally come to a close and I would like to share my conclusions with you."
"Oh. All right."
"I have determined, through meticulous scientific research, that my biology dictates that I engage in intercourse with men. I'm sure you know what that's like, having previously come to the conclusion about yourself."
"Further, it has come to my attention that there is a neuro-chemical reaction in my brain whenever I am around you, and a brain like mine is not so easily swayed. Ergo the, and please excuse the trite misuse of the term, 'chemistry' between us must be quite strong. And judging from your proffer of sex that began this experiment in the first place, you are open to a sexual relationship with me. So I came here today to tell you that I, too, am open to a sexual relationship. With you, obviously. In case that wasn't clear. I'm already in a sexual relationship with myself, and it's quite beneficial for both parties, let me assure you. But I'm willing to open it up to a third, in your case."
"Are you asking me out?"
"To put it into layman's terms."
"Okay, I'll go out with you."
"And then we'll have sex?"
"If you're lucky."
"Very well," Sheldon agrees. "I shall pick you up at eight thirty on Friday. I'll bring condoms if you'll bring lubricant."