Word count: 1743
Summary: The pursuit of knowledge--it's a good thing.
Author's Note: I had a lot of fun with the prompt “using knowledge as a tool of seduction.” I was also given a quote to work with: “When I die, I want you to dress me in straight-laced shoes/Box-back coat and a Stetson hat/Put a twenty-dollar gold piece in my watch chain,/So the boys will know that I died standing pat.” Oddly enough, as I played with knowledge as a tool of seduction, the quote sort of morphed itself into two things: the basis for my IBAR post and this piece, where looking one's best came to be very loosely translated as attraction. Why? Blame my muse. Enjoy.
“Who had the turkey?” Danny asked as he began to pull sandwiches out of the bag.
“Yo,” Don replied. He raised his hand and caught the toss with practiced ease.
“Hawkes, you had the Italian combo or the roast beef?”
“I ordered tuna,” Sheldon replied. Danny dug deeper into the bag.
“No tuna,” he declared. Sheldon rolled his eyes.
“Not again! Why me?” he sighed.
“Why you? Because it's fun to yank your chain--here.” Danny pulled a sandwich out of the bag and winked at Don. Sheldon gave him a dirty look and took the sandwich from him. He took a seat at the table and began to unwrap it while Danny went to distribute the remaining sandwiches to Mac and Stella, who were eating at their respective desks. Don went to the vending machine and purchased a soda.
“May I join you?” he asked as he pulled out a chair at the table.
“Help yourself,” Sheldon replied absently. Don sat down and unwrapped his sandwich. He took a bite as he tried to peek at what Sheldon was reading.
“What's that, homework?”
“Huh? Oh, no; I'm reading an article I found on the net.”
“The Biology of Passion: A Reichian View of Sex and Love?” Don read aloud. He looked up at Sheldon. “No way in hell that's work related.”
“I never said it was,” Sheldon replied with a smile as Danny returned and pulled up a chair. “It's a bit of personal research.”
“Oh?” Don replied with interest. “What sort of research?” he asked as he pulled a second article out from under the other one and peered at its title. It was even more provocative than the first--results of a study on what arouses bisexual men.
“Well, maybe research isn't the right word for it...”
“Oh, no,” Danny said, wiping his chin and reading the title upside down. “You're not going to get out of explaining this one, Doc.”
“Oh, I'm more than willing to explain it,” Sheldon replied, sitting back and smiling confidently. “I was just going to say that it was more light reading than research.”
“Light reading,” Don said expectantly.
“I was watching a television program last night and there was a piece discussing recent findings on the biology of sexual orientation. It got me thinking, so I did a little search on the net.”
“The biology of sexual orientation.”
“What does that mean exactly...the biology of sexual orientation?” Danny asked.
“Well, there's a body of research that seeks to understand what determines a person's sexual orientation,” Sheldon explained. “There are several theories, some are looking for biological explanations for sexual orientation, while others believe that there's a psycho-analytic basis. The program also addressed social constructionism, sexual experiences during childhood or adolescence and social or behavioral causes. Personally, I tend to side with the biological theories, but even those seem somewhat off the mark, in my opinion.”
“Off the mark,” Don repeated in a tone that told Sheldon he didn't have a clue as to what he was talking about. Danny's expression also betrayed his confusion. Sheldon set down his sandwich and smiled wryly.
“That program got me thinking. That's why I'm reading these,” he said, patting the papers on the table.
“So you said. It got you thinking what, exactly?” Danny demanded. Sheldon blinked at him for a moment.
“Yeah, Doc, don't keep us in suspense,” Don said.
“Well, after watching the show I started thinking about what turns a man on,” Sheldon said, leaning forward and lowering his voice to prevent being overheard by passersby.
“You had to watch television to get interested in sex?” Danny quipped. “You should have watched one of them pay-per-view channels instead of public television.”
“I'm talking about the physiological aspects of arousal, Danny,” Sheldon replied patiently.
“Of course you are,” he replied puckishly. “So clue us in. What turns a man on?” He glanced at Don, who was also eager for enlightenment.
“The nature of sexual desire in humans is rather complex and for a very long time it defied explanation...” Sheldon began.
“Who needs an explanation? Just go with the flow!”
“Messer,” Don said warningly. “Let the man speak.”
“Go ahead, Hawkes. We're all ears,” Danny said lightly.
“There's been a lot of research on the subject over the last decade or so that suggests--.”
“Popular subject, sex.”
“Danny!” Don spat exasperatedly. “Go on, Doc,” he said propping his chin.
“According to the research, men respond rather predictably to a basic set of stimuli. Let's say a guy sees someone who gets his juices flowing. That elicits sexual desire, at which point he becomes aroused and then, if he's lucky, he gets off. All this suggests that the male sex drive is linear, moving from point A to point B without any deviation. Women behave differently. For them, romance plays a large role in arousal, as well as attributes such as physical attractiveness, a desire to procreate--.”
“The size of a guy's bank account, what car he drives,” Danny volunteered. Don silenced him with a look and turned back to Sheldon, who acknowledged the gesture with a smile before continuing.
“There's a fundamental problem with all these results--.”
“Which is?” Don interrupted. Danny shot him a look.
“ All of it is rather limited in scope,” Sheldon replied. “Researchers are just like the rest of us. They have strong biases and opinions that color their judgment when it comes to their work. As far as they're concerned, interest in one's own gender is some sort of an aberration, so their focus is skewed toward the study of heterosexual sex. I can't accept such a narrow line of research as legitimate or conclusive evidence.”
“Why not?” Don asked.
“Research shows that the average man between the ages of 18-59 thinks about sex a minimum of once a day and a good many of them probably more than that,” Sheldon replied, flipping back a few pages in his notepad for the proper citation.
"A lot more," Danny agreed.
“Exactly; men are essentially sharks in trousers,” Sheldon continued. “When we're not otherwise occupied, our minds are almost singlemindedly devoted to satisfying our baser appetites.” Don pondered his point for a second and nodded in agreement, as did Danny. “And for a normal, healthy male, sexual desire is nearly as important as food. So it seems to me that if we're all thinking about sex--and thinking about it a lot,” Sheldon said, pausing for effect, “we're probably not thinking linearly. I don't believe sexual desire is as neat and tidy as the research suggests. It overlooks the obvious.”
“And what's the obvious?” Don asked, frowning.
“You heard the doctor,” Danny said. “Men are dogs.”
“He said sharks.”
“Same thing--shark, dog, pig--he's basically saying that when it comes to sex, we're voracious and insatiable.”
“Exactly, Danny,” Sheldon replied. “And given that fact, it seems somewhat unrealistic to assume that our sexual desire is strictly limited to a specific set of stimuli. When we've got an inch to scratch we can be very creative.”
“Creative?” Danny repeated quizzically.
“And adaptive,” Sheldon said, turning his gaze on Don, who sat back and, raising an eyebrow, calmly returned it.
“So?” Danny said persistently, breaking the spell. Sheldon blinked and averted his eyes.
“Oh; so I started looking for more information. I was curious to see if there was anyone out there looking at sexual arousal from an unbiased perspective.”
Danny and Don exchanged a glance and then frowned at Sheldon, who smiled at their confusion.
“Long story short, I want to know what really turns a man on.”
“Don't you already know, Doc? I mean--duh!” Danny said. “Why does anyone need to research this stuff?”
“The Doc here's a scientist,” Don replied, sitting forward and rubbing his hands together. “Inquiring minds want to know and all that, right?”
“What can I say; I've got an insatiable curiosity about some things,” Sheldon replied, his eyes fairly glittering with mischief. Don smiled back at him, while Danny continued to look confused. “I'm thinking of launching my own study.”
“Hold that thought, Doc,” Don said, holding up his hand when his phone began to ring. He took down a message and shut his phone. “Sorry; I've got a suspicious death in Chelsea,” he said before stuffing a piece of sandwich into his mouth. He quickly wrapped up the remainder, wiped his mouth with a napkin and picked up his trash. “We'll have to continue this conversation another time.” He gave Sheldon a meaningful look, excused himself and left. Sheldon smiled back and watched him leave.
“So, Doc,” Danny said. “I got nowhere to go. Tell me about this research you want to do.”
“Maybe Flack was right. We should save this for another time,” he said, rising to clear away the remainder of his own lunch.
“Aw, come on, Doc. You can tell Flack later. I'm all ears and I'm still here!”
“I've got to get back to work,” Sheldon said.
“No, no, no, no! Hawkes! Sheldon!” Danny pleaded as he followed him down the hall. “I'm dying here!”
“A few minutes ago you thought that there was no need for research on this subject.”
“That was before you said--. I--. I mean...” Danny sputtered as Sheldon smiled impishly. “Oh, I see how it is,” he said as he followed Sheldon into the lab and sat down at his bench. “I'm onto you, Doc. You're just as biased as the rest of them.” Sheldon looked up.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, don't try to play the innocent, Doc. You've got an agenda and I can see right through it,” Danny said accusingly. Sheldon shrugged.
“I never said it would be a rigorous scientific study,” he admitted.
“Who are you kidding, Doc? You don't care what kind of study it is as long as Don Flack volunteers to be the test subject.”
Sheldon tried unsuccessfully to feign surprise. He did, however, manage to suppress a smile as he kept his eyes on the toxicology report on his desk.
“Jealous much?” he quipped.
“Let's just say that if you were really interested in conducting unbiased research--.”
Sheldon looked up and regarded Danny with interest.
“Hey, I'm a scientist, too, you know,” Danny explained. “I know that a study that can't be replicated wouldn't carry much weight in scientific circles.”
“I'll keep that in mind,” Sheldon replied, smiling. His cellphone beeped, signaling the arrival of a text message. He flipped it open and read it:
Eager to learn more. (212) 555-6143
Sheldon snapped the phone shut and pocketed it, making a mental note to call Don later.