The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
What does your idea of happiness look like?
Mine can be seen in episode 11 of season 02 of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon, a brilliant theoretical physicist, gets an unexpected gift. Sheldon’s an admirer of Leonard Nimoy, who plays the fictional character “Spock” in the original Star Trek series; Sheldon loves the actor to death.
Penny, the “girl next door”, unexpectedly gifts Sheldon a napkin from the Cheesecake Factory where she’s gainfully employed. At first he’s underwhelmed, like everyone would be when presented with an ordinary napkin, but then he’s asked to turn it over and his feelings change.
I want to be that happy about anything one day, if only for a moment.
What he’s holding is not just a napkin, but a napkin with Nimoy‘s autograph on it and a message to Sheldon.
He’s astonished at first, to the point of needing to sit down on an armrest, but then Penny lets him know that the napkin he’s holding was used by Nimoy himself, which Sheldon interprets as him being in the possession of Nimoy’s DNA and finds himself unable to contain his feelings anymore.
He jumps up from the armrest absolutely beside himself with glee. His face contorts into different shapes from sheer disbelief. His hands begin to shake from excitement. The thought of being able to create a clone of his beloved hero sends him flying into a vortex of emotions all fighting for supremacy; his ordinarily stoic countenance reduced to a mounting heap of happy tears.
Sheldon abhors physical intimacy of any kind; it disgusts him and doesn’t understand why people seek it out. We learned from previous episodes that he is a massive germaphobe. At this point in the show you would deem it unthinkable for Sheldon to willingly touch another human being.
Yet his gratitude for Penny is so vast that he attempts to hug her (!!).
That’s the kind of happy I want to be. Paradigm-shifting happiness. Earth-shattering happiness. Life-giving happiness. I wonder what it would do to me and ponder the implications. What would I suddenly be willing to do that I’m now fervently against? Speak in front of thousands? Try sex again? I don’t know. The thought that experiencing a happiness like Sheldon did could happen to me exhilarates me to no end.
You can watch the scene on YouTube if you’re interested.
Created on August 5, 2021
Published on August 5, 2021