"No, Mrs. Cooper, Sheldon is not crazy."
Mary looked dubious.
"He's eccentric. He's anxiety-ridden, hence the rituals. He's socially awkward. Why wouldn't he? A month ago, he was a visiting professor living abroad. Two nights ago he was at a..." Dr. Greene looked to Sheldon.
"Teens for Jesus Hoedown."
"I thought it would be good for him to spend time with his peers," Mary explained, a little defensively. Shelly and Missy had looked so cute in coordinated outfits.
"Mrs. Cooper, Sheldon has no peers," Dr. Greene explained gently before turning to Sheldon.
"That will change. By the time you're thirty, you'll have friends and colleagues your age. You'll decide where you live, if you attend church..."
Mary frowned but did not interupt.
"You'll be your own man. I want you to follow up with a therapist to help you learn better ways to deal with your anxiety. And have that twin of your set you up on a date with a nice girl," he added with a fatherly smile.
Sheldon saw the therapist and learned some relaxation techniques. A bunch of hokum, but he did faint less often. He did not go on a date. He had nothing in common with other teenagers and he was isolated from his peers. Now matter how brilliant his work, he still didn't need to shave and was extremely clumsy as a result of a sudden growth spurt. He couldn't walk down a hall without bumping into something. He knocked over drinks, dropped his papers, knocked himself out if he tried to bend over to tie his shoe anywhere near a solid object. As for his rituals, Dr. Greene was an intelligent man and respected in his field but he made one major thinking error. He thought Sheldon's fear of germs was disporportionate to the threat. Didn't he learn anything in medical school? Germs were everywhere. They made you sick and being sick left you more vulnerable and alone than ever. Sheldon's fear of germs kept him vigilant and safe. He wouldn't give up his anxieties. He'd just have to wait it out until he was thirty and he'd be normal. Every year he celebrated that he, like everything in the universe, was moving towards the norm.
Of course, that was hokum as well but Sheldon enjoyed the ritual. It was part of his whimsical nature. He knew he was getting weirder every year. Exponentially weirder. He could barely look people in the eyes. He didn't own a shirt he hadn't bought at the comic book store. He spent his evenings in a lawn chair in the one part of the living room that felt right. Each roommate that moved out left him more anxious and that meant... more rituals. He was spending a fortune in toothbrushes, flossing took fifteen minutes. He ate nothing he couldn't boil first. He felt queasy putting on his shoes; both from the anxiety about germs and the overwhelming cloud of disinfectant.
Then Leonard moved in. Sheldon actually had a friend and collegue his age. Sheldon Lee Cooper had a friend. They ordered take out. Leonard brought Raj and Howard. Now Sheldon had a group of friends. He bought a snazzy checked suit for confrences. Leonard also brought Penny into the group giving Sheldon a friend who was a pretty girl and a friend of "normal" intellect. He went bowling. Leonard brought Beverly who divested Sheldon of his troublesome virginity. Raj and Howard found Amy Farrah Fowler. He drank the splash of wine he had poured seemingly hours ago. Sheldon Lee Cooper, social butterfly, still had a month to go until he turned thirty.
Truly, Leonard was the bringer of good things. Now they were going to have sex and it was going to be terrible and absolutely humiliating. By twenty-five, Sheldon knew the time had passed for him to have a somewhat normal "first time". Every year that passed since then made his inexperience stranger and less excusable to any potential partner. With Beverly, the only thing he had to fear was being caught in flagrante delicto by Leonard and subsequently being murdered. This time, he'd have to perform and he would perform so very badly. Sheldon was an intelligent man and he did not need to play football to know he would be terrible at it, despite his father's protestations. One game and a broken collar bone later, he was proven right. The same went for baseball, cooking and driving. All grand scale failures.
He could call it all off now and save what was left of his dignity but Leonard was reading the list. His cheeks were flushed from the wine and he had such dark eyes. What's dignity between friends?
Leonard turned his warm dark eyes to Sheldon and licked his full lips. He looked befuddled and not a little bit concerned. Sheldon had grown to love that look.
"Sheldon, this list is insane! You are a crazy person!"
But Sheldon Cooper wasn't crazy, his mom had him tested. He was becoming his own man and normal is such a subjective word.