27-Love Letters from Vietnam: "Sheldon" in Love

Tim and Sheldon of "The Big Bang Theory"

Ah, the "can't eat, can't sleep" syndrome - we know it well. And yet, what is all this falling in love about?

I smiled at the Peace Out, Season Two episode of Big Bang Theory, because it suddenly struck me that there are similarities to the very intelligent Tim whom I fell in love with and the Sheldon character on this sitcom. In this episode Sheldon tries to persuade Kali Cuoco's character, Penny, that she should do nothing to disrupt Leonard's relationship with his new girlfriend (for Sheldon's benefit, of course.). In so doing, Jim Parsons, as Sheldon, spews forth a dialog that is hilarious and which I've been trying to capture to play on this hub. Alas, after googling, twittering, facebooking, amazon-ing, attempting to download, and ultimately driving to Blockbuster, I can't seem to post the clip that shows Sheldon's explanation of the matter-of-fact, chemical basis for falling in love that he delivers later on in the episode. Until I can figure out the legal way to post the episode, here is a piece of the dialog from that episode. Sheldon is explaining to Leonard in this scene why he is pretending to not be able to open a jar.

Sheldon: When I fail to open this jar and you succeed it will establish you as the alpha male. You see, when a female witnesses an exhibition of physical domination she produces the hormone oxytocin. If the two of you then engage in intercourse this will create the biochemical reaction in the brain which lay people naively interpret as falling in love.

Of course, the execution of the dialog by the talented Big Bang actors, is much more hilarious.

22 September, 1969

Link to Complete Index of Letters

Dear Kate,

Hello my love, how you be? Well, so far so good. My pass application made it past the squad leader, platoon sergeant, and operations sergeant. It should be sitting on the first sergeants desk tomorrow morning. This is the determining factor in the outcome of my pass. Usually if the first sergeant ok's it, the CO will sign it. Hmmm, seems like an awful lot of people sitting on my head, doesn't it?

I know that I have to see you again, and soon! The strain of our separation has not been wearing well on me. It's getting so that I can't eat, sleep, or think coherently. I know that I should wear my love in joy and share it with others, but my heart senses the emptiness, and weeps at the losss. Please forgive me if it sounds like my love is a burden. But it is a burden I will gladly bear all my life. I hope the love we share has not caused you anguish, but fills your gentle heart with joy.

I received a letter from Rick and Jane today. They're still as crazy as ever. It seems that Rick and Jane, Matt and Anne went water skiing. Jane informed me that Matt is a "bottom dropper" - something I always suspected about Matt. have you seen those beautiful, nutty people lately? Since I've been in the army I've come to realize how good God has been to me in sending me people to love. In particular, God must love me because he sent me you.

Love,

Tim

Across a Crowded Room

The Sheldon character on "The Big Bang Theory" would find the article, "The Science Behind Falling In Love," on ABC News anything but scientific, given that it doesn't seem to be based on a wealth of scientific data, but instead on "mundane" annecdotal references and undocumented science. We, however, might find the article all too scientific since it throws the biological/chemical component right back into the romance discussion. Hedging all bets on the rationale behind falling in love, the article actually states that the phenomenon of "love at first sight" does exist:

"'You slowly winnow out those individuals who don't look the part, feel the part, touch the part and you are left with the kind of person who you think is right for you. And at that point, boom!' said Rutgers University anthropology professor Helen Fisher...

There is also 'love at first taste and smell.' The first kiss can literally serve as a taste test for true love...There can be testosterone in men's saliva. The man is sort of slipping a chemical mickey that acts as an aphrodisiac on the woman,' Kluger said."

"That kiss could potentially determine whether a couple's genes are compatible enough to produce a healthy offspring.There is also 'love at first taste and smell.' The first kiss can literally serve as a taste test for true love."

Whatever the chemistry, whatever molecules, atoms, protons, electrons, neutrons, or any other "trons" are involved in the process of falling in love, here's to chemistry!


"Crazy Glue"

So until someone twitters me with Sheldon's direct quote on falling in love, let's explore some other views on the subject. In an article entitled "Love Science: Falling in Love Is Just a Matter of Brain Chemistry," Stephanie Vermuelen (Emotional IQ) explores the chemistry behind the "crazy glue" that magically bonds two lovers together.

"Oxytocin is relationship super-glue and like the sticky adhesive it’s not particular about whom it bonds with. A few hot romantic encounters are enough to seal the deal and, once cemented, the madness begins.

You know the feeling. Under the influence of huge surges of energy, euphoria and exhilaration the dullest drip can suddenly transform into the funniest/ smartest/ most charming (delete where applicable) man you’ve ever met. You’re also tempted to engage in wild escapades like shouting from the roof tops or penning love-poems though the night and your once-intelligent brain can’t-seem –to-think-of-anything-else-but …

Although many romantic-air-castles have been built around the idea of finding a soul-mate, this heady thrill has nothing to do with a spiritual bond and everything to do with dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally occurring brain chemical that acts like cocaine-on-steroids and while we’re awash in it, he (or she) can do no wrong."

...to which, I, Katy-Who-Waited say, "Viva la dopamine!"

Kate's View of Falling, Being, and Staying in Love

I am firmly convinced that there is such a thing as "love at first sight," but that it actually is not based on first sight. Rather, I believe that love that is instantaneous is based on a myriad of subconscious observations that we have made throughout our life time of characteristics that have proved positive in our lives. It didn't take me long to realize that my attraction to Tim started in kindergarten! I attended a Catholic school run by Italian nuns and located in the heart of "Little Italy" in Milwaukee. When I was five, I kissed Nickey Marino in the coat room, because I remember telling the nun, "He just looked so cute." Some 21 years later, I fell in love with Tim. He, of course, was of Italian heritage. I can't help but think it's all linked together. I think we bring to that first encounter a summation in our mind of that person who matches us well. We are aware of none of this on a conscious level, and "that's a good thing," as Martha Stewart would say.

Being in love is a different business. As mentioned in the other "Love Letters from Vietnam" hubs, long distance romance can be tricky and misleading. However, if it produces the letters that one can look at forty years later and which bring the joy these are bringing to me, it's all part of the "wonderful game that we know as love."

But for the toughest part, the staying in love, now that requires knowing about the "falling" and the "being" part. If the falling involves dopamine, I say, figure out how to get that chemistry back. Millions have done it and so can we. If the "being" in love involves passionate letter writing, that expresses our true appreciation for our spouse, I say, why not write a love letter now?  In Tim's letter that I'll post tomorrow are words that I wish I would have memorized in my soul forty years ago, printed on some parchment, and posted on some wall that I could have seen daily. But it's never too late.  And such is gift of age - to start the things we've never done before, but most importantly, to pass on...to you... the things we wish we had done sooner!

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