Penny was feeling positively glum when she woke up the following day, after the double date with Sheldon and Amy. How can that wack-a-doodle and his platonic girlfriend have a better relationship than her and Leonard? It had to be wrong, she thought, as she got up the following morning for work. Jumping in the shower, she found herself going over and over the previous night's events. Sheldon and Amy? No way were they better than us! NO WAY!
As she was leaving the apartment she noticed the door of 4a ajar. She pushed it open a little more and found Sheldon at his desk typing wildly. "I'm coming Leonard," he groaned. "We leave at 7.20 each morning. It is currently 7.17 and twelve seconds. I have 2 minutes and 43 seconds to complete this report and if you quit bugging me I will have it done in just under 2 minutes…"
Penny chuckled, "I'm not Leonard."
"Oh," he turned for a milli-second, his fingers never ceasing their flight across the keys.
"No, 'Hello Penny, how are you?'"
"Well, if I stopped for a 'Hello Penny, how are you?' I'm sure Leonard would be even more irrationally irritated," he said, staring at his screen.
"It seems so, but who can tell?" he scoffed.
Penny strode over to the desk where Sheldon was working. "So…what did he say?" she asked, as casually as she could muster.
"Nothing much, just blah blah, you're too slow, I'm going to the car, blah, blah. I wasn't really listening."
"Oh." Penny said, wondering if the test was playing on Leonard's mind like it was hers. "Well I'll leave you to finish," she said. Sheldon didn't answer so she turned to leave, but as she did so something made her pause. A black and white composition notebook in Sheldon's neat hand was sitting on the coffee table. It read: 'The Berscheid, Snyder, and Omoto test. Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler."
In the blink of an eye she had scooped up the notebook and hurried out the door without as much as a "goodbye," rushed down the stairs, and was inside her car before she stopped to fully examine her prize.
Flicking through quickly, she smiled. This was exactly what she needed. Sheldon had listed all the questions. "Good old reliable OCD," she snickered. She would take this fancy-ass test on behalf of Leonard and herself and prove him wrong. That would cheer Leonard up! They had a stronger relationship and she knew it.
Later that evening Penny was chewing hard on a pen. "What the heck?" she said, screwing up her eyes as she baffled over the next question.
It was divided into three sections - her dispositions, Leonard's dispositions, and the manner in which these intersect.
She stared into space…"What's a disposition?" she frowned, but she later found google came to hand.
"How much time we spend together in hours per week?" Okay, she could do that one. Penny began to scribble and estimate their totals. They did spend a lot more time together these days, but she couldn't help but think Sheldon and Amy might spend more time together. Damn!
'Relative Closeness Inventory'.
Penny read the intro aloud. "It is important that the activities surveyed run the gamut from the mundane tasks of everyday life (e.g. doing laundry, eating a meal) to those more unusual (e.g. going on an outing)* Which of these activities do you participate in alone and which do you participate in with your partner?"
"Right, laundry?!" Penny said, poised over the page with determination. She usually did her laundry alone, unless you count all the times she ran into her wacky neighbour, but generally it was a lone activity.
"Eating a meal?" Penny placed a big tick. "…what about going on an outing?" Leonard and she had gone out when they weren't dating but apart from that they always stayed home. It was easier. In truth, she'd spent more time couriering Sheldon around. Soup Plantation, Radio Shack, the drug store, and wherever else he demanded to go. Double-damn!
As Penny worked her way through the sections she began to wonder if Sheldon was right. Maybe Leonard and she did have such a poor relationship? But then she came to the second section:
'Frequency of diversity domains'
The frequency with which Sheldon shares his time is strictly limited to the Relationship Agreement, but not so for Penny and Leonard. This is where they started to gain some ground. Next came:
'Strength of influence'
Penny read this section without answering the questions, becoming more and more depressed, then she quickly scribbled down their results. They weren't high. This section was about empathy, projected closeness, how accurately they understood each other's needs and desires. They got a few points in the sexual desire and social connection section.
Not quite the result she had hoped for.
"Huh! I'd probably get a higher score if I took the test with Sheldon" she sighed, dropping the notebook down on the table. Well that's that then. Sheldon and Amy scored 8.2 and she and Leonard just over half of that. She tilted her head back and sighed. No point in showing this to Leonard, she thought, he'd only feel worse and then he'd get all insecure and blame her for stealing Sheldon's test in the first place. And what did a science test say about love anyway...right?!
Penny frowned as she thought about what it would take to get their score up to 8.2. "Pfff!" she huffed enviously. But then something dawned on her. Sheldon only thought he understood Amy's needs. And he did most things alone, like his laundry, his shopping, cleaning. He also didn't deviate from frequency EVER. And he certainly didn't project closeness, he hated closeness. This type of test was about "emotional experience within relationships, especially love and sexual desire."**
Love and sexual desire! Give me a break. Penny smelt a rat. She snatched up the notebook again and flipped to the end and there it was...
"2.8!" she bellowed, "that lying little…" She was out of her seat in an instant, across the hall and banging on the door of the opposite apartment. "Sheldon!"
"Yes," he answered, calm as a monk.
Penny didn't speak, she simply rose the notebook up to Sheldon's eye level and watched as his irises expanded. He swallowed hard and then, quick as a bunny, dashed past her down the stairs.
"SHELDON!" she yelled in pursuit. "GET BACK HERE."
References from: *Berscheid_et_al_2004 / **Cwir, Carr, Walton, & Spencer-in press JESP / Other points: Beckes_umn_0130E_10427