His hair was brushed, his suit pressed and his slacks were fresh from the plastic wrapped around them in the store. Brushing and checking his hair over and over, Leonard realized this was the night that could make or break his relationship with the hot blonde from across the hall. Her name was Penny Parker, a struggling actress from Omaha, Nebraska with long legs, cascading blonde hair, the body of a young Christina Applegate and two big blue doll-like eyes. She also had a voice that was out of pitch, a bad temper and an innocent habit of mooching food off the guys, but Leonard could forgive all that if but she offered to be the first Mrs. Leonard Hofstadter and the mother of his children, but right now, she wanted a career. She wanted to be popular. She wanted her name on movie posters and guys everywhere worshipping the ground she walked on. Leonard was already there. He was fresh from his horrible three-month sojourn from Antarctica, clean-shaven and ready to jump head first into the lake known as "In A Relationship." He appeared at Penny's door nervous, insecure and nervous of what was about to happen next.
He knocked at her door. Lifting his right foot to scratch the back of his left leg, Leonard was on both feet as Penny opened the door in her red dress. They were having dinner in her apartment tonight, but he was mostly looking forward to their post-dinner coital relationship.
"Hey, Leonard…" She shined toward him. "Come on in…"
"Thanks…" Leonard strolled in as she closed the door behind him. "Sorry, I'm late…"
"Uh, what?" She looked to him.
"You said be here at seven…" Leonard checked his watch. "It's 7:03."
"Yes…" She realized once again his pattern for accuracy. "That it is…" She gave him a nice kiss to the cheek at the door and stepped back to pick up her tops, underwear and a shoe from the sofa for him to sit. Looking around her apartment, Leonard glanced around the dishes in her sink, the smattering of magazines and mail on her table and then the photos of her family and friends on the wall.
"You cleaned up a little." He noticed.
"Yeah…" Penny answered. "Well, sometimes, I just can't stand looking at it." She placed the bread and cups on her table then turned back for the plates of food.
"Dinner smells good."
"Yeah," Penny was a good judge of her cooking. "Well, I just heated up three TV dinners and then merged them together on two plates." She set the table. Leonard looked at what she had. Three servings of turkey and dressing split between the two of them, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables were set on plastic plates for the two of them. It may not have been fine dining, but it was dinner, and getting to spend it with Penny was the best part. She gestured to him to sit down and poured him wine from a carton purchased from the market.
"So…" Penny sat across from him and looked at him interestedly. "How was Antarctica?" She had heard about the guys placating Sheldon's experiment that lead to his embarrassment at Cal Tech, and she heard the details about the night the power went out, but there had to be more than that.
"Well…" Leonard thought back. "It was cold, miserable, and Sheldon was an ass." He paused. "Correction: he was the biggest ass in the capitol of a country of asses."
"What did he do?" Penny dipped her bread in the gravy on her dinner.
"What does he ever do?" Leonard sipped his wine. "He acted like Sheldon." He placed his glass back down. "Another month, and we would have left him trapped in ice and made him a problem for future generations." He salted his peas and carrots. "What about here? Did anything happen here?"
"Not much…" Penny looked up to him. "Miss Forbisher's cat caught a opossum in the basement…" She paused. "At least I think it's a opossum, I'd hate to think a rat could get that big."
Leonard was looking up at her over his turkey and dressing.
"Mr. Tuttle's son got mugged outside the building."
"For the crook…" Penny added. "His son is a seven foot tall Marine drill sergeant." She stirred her vegetables into her mashed potatoes. "It was like watching a 747 land on top of this tiny stick man."
Leonard re-sipped his wine.
"Oh, yeah…" Penny continued. "Mr. Forbisher from upstairs was finally put into a home."
"Well, we all saw that coming." Leonard felt a pang of reluctant joy. "The last time I saw him he was laying landing lights on the roof for the aliens to come."
"Hey," Penny shook her fork at Leonard. "I'm the one who had to complain when he went down to get his mail in just his belt and socks!"
Leonard reacted confused. "What kept his belt…"
"Don't ask…" Penny made a reluctant horrifying face of grossed-out displeasure. "I'm still trying to get that image out of my head." She wasn't sure she could eat anymore after having that image return to her memory. It was only a few weeks before Leonard and the guys came home, but it was still seared into the fabric of her mind's tapestry of images. "He's gone. Someone else is living up there now."
"What's he like?"
"I don't know yet."
"Well, whatever you do, don't tell…" They both heard the door of the outside apartment open and close, followed by a very short sequence of footsteps and a very sudden and quick frenzy of knocking at Penny's door.
"Leonard and Penny?" The rapping continued. "Leonard and Penny?" More rapping followed. "Leonard and Penny?"
"Damn his Vulcan ears…" Leonard sighed disgustedly and rose to answer the door for his new girlfriend. "I should have left him in the ice." He mumbled as he left his dinner and strolled over to answer the door. "What?" He tried to sound as annoyed and inconvenienced as possible as the Boy Blunder ruined what should have been yet another nice night for him.
"What do you mean Mr. Forbisher is gone?" Sheldon Cooper queried. He might have been one of the biggest brains at Cal Tech, but he also had one of the biggest egos and the least social skills in the institution if not the world. Every morning Leonard had rooming with him across the hall started with him planning the perfect way to rid the world of Sheldon. Garbed in his red Flash t-shirt, Sheldon's misshaped head with that thin haircut perched atop his long neck made him look like a crazy cock-eyed and paranoid insect listening to noises that didn't exist. "He wasn't crazy. He was just as normal as I am."
"You can say that again…" Leonard knew that sentence could be construed another way.
"Sheldon, sweetie…" Penny sighed and approached him. "Mr. Forbisher was senile. He was practically swimming in Lake Alzheimers."
"But he was my friend…" Sheldon reflected on his memories of the retired science teacher. "He said hello to me, he listened to my discussions…"
"He didn't listen to you." Leonard pointed out. "He thought you were an android and was examining your voice for signs of alien transmissions from space!"
Sheldon seemed to simulate signs of forlorn emotion for someone who seemed to respect him.
"He's gone." Sheldon reacted dismissive a second then turned his head to Penny's ceiling. His eyes rolling, his ears perched, he was listening for details from their new tenant. "What about this new person? Penny, quick, what do you know about them?"
"It's a guy."
"Think, woman!" He confronted her. "Do you see them bringing in any sort of percussion or clog-dancing paraphernalia?"
"I don't know." Penny rolled her eyes already tired of dealing with the eccentric world of Sheldon Cooper. "I didn't see anything."
"Did you ask any questions at all?" Sheldon never did understand that no one thought the way he did. "Did you make any effort to interview him? Don't you care that we might have a gypsy or an undesirable person living among us?"
"I'm looking at one now!" Leonard glared at this nut with which he shared an apartment.
"Sheldon, look…" Penny fought the urge to react to her base instinct and pull Sheldon's bottom lip up over his head. "He's been living here three weeks, and I have not heard a peep from him, and besides, I'm the one living under him, not you."
"Well…" Sheldon looked to her ceiling, back at her then up again. "I might be able to tolerate your inability to screen anyone entering the building, but you will wish you had when we're being barraged by loud music at night while all sorts of strange people are stomping up and down our stairs." He turned out. "Come on, Leonard…"
"Come on, what?" Leonard reacted confused.
"It's comic book night!"
"I'm having dinner with Penny!"
"But it's comic book night."
"Penny invited me to have dinner with her." Leonard reminded him. "I told you about it this morning."
"Oh, all right…" Sheldon re-entered the apartment from the hall and closed the door behind him. "What are we having?" He strolled over and looked at the two plates. "Turkey on Chinese Food night? Good Lord! Well, let's speed through this so we can get to the comic book store…"