Written for prompt 53 (fra un minuto/in a minute) of maritombola; it's like the Italian version of bingo, only better. This just wrote itself. Also, in a sudden outburst of nerdiness, my alarm clock was used to check the accuracy of the times listed. Give or take an error of ten seconds to account for comedic pauses.


"Penny. Penny. Penny."

Sheldon had barely finished knocking for the third time when she opened the door. "What now?" she asked.

"You said you'd drive me to the comic book store," Sheldon stated.

"Yes," Penny said, slowly. "It was just a couple of minutes ago, I remember."

"Correction," Sheldon replied, consulting his watch. "It was one minute and forty-eight seconds ago."

Penny frowned and considered the situation. She could have punched him, but she had fresh nail polish on her right hand and her left hook wasn't strong enough for the irritation that was building up in her stomach.

"Yes," she said. "And your point is...?"

Sheldon would probably have rolled his eyes, if he ever did something as plebeian as rolling his eyes. Instead he gave her a condescending look. "One minute and forty-eight seconds ago you said you'd drive me to the comic book store in a minute. That was forty-eight seconds ago," he added in what he probably thought was a helpful tone.

Penny groaned. "I didn't mean a minute as in a minute," she said.

"Then what does 'a minute' mean to you?" Sheldon asked, making little quotation gestures in the air. "Does 'a minute' have a different meaning in Nebraska?"

"No," said Penny. "I just meant, I'm painting my nails, it'll take me a while to finish but then we can go to the comic book store."

"And how long will it take you to finish?" Sheldon asked.

"I don't know," Penny replied. "Some minutes?"

Sheldon frowned. "Are you asking me?" he said. "You should know how long it takes, not me. Painting your fingernails is something you do on a regular basis. That's like saying you don't know how long it takes you to fold your laundry, or to make a bowl of cereals with warm milk, or to pee."

Penny stared at him. He stared back. She was the one who gave up first.

"Well, I don't know. Five minutes?"

"Five...?" Sheldon scoffed and threw up his hands in the air. "Oh, let's just make up numbers then. It's not as if this is anything important."

"Damn right it's not," Penny deadpanned, but Sheldon's sarcasm radar didn't manage to pick that up.

"You said, one minute and forty-eight seconds ago... Actually, two minutes and fifty-three seconds ago," Sheldon amended, checking his watch, "that it would take you one minute. The time required for the completion of a task should only go down, not up." He shook his head emphatically. "That's why you should never use a Windows-based operating system. That and the Office Assistant, I hate that little paperclip."

Penny looked wistfully at her mismatched nails. This was Leonard's fault. Why did he have to go and attend a seminar on comic book night?

"Isn't time relative or something?" she asked. "Can't you stretch one minute into five minutes?"

"Excuse me?"

The look he gave her could only be described as withering. In hindsight, that had been a mistake. Or possibly moving here years ago had been the mistake and this was just the follow-up, the jury was still out on that.

"In 1905," Sheldon began in his lecture tone. Penny's reflexes kicked in immediately.

"Nonono, I was joking!" she said, waving her hands. Sheldon gave her the one-does-not-joke-with-the-theory-of-space-and-time look, but she knew what to do. "If you shut up we'll go to the comic book store now. And I'll buy you a comic book," she added.

Sheldon gave this due consideration. "All right," he smiled.

Penny sighed, grabbed her coat and shut the door behind her.