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406 - Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper

Aired Thursday, January 21, 2021
Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper

Sheldon insists he doesn't need Mary to attend his college orientation with him. Meanwhile, George Sr. helps Pastor Jeff decorate a nursery, while Meemaw styles Missy's hair for the first day of school.

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Episode Notes

  • Title Reference: "Freshman Orientation" refers to Sheldon's first day at college and "the Inventor of the Zipper" refers to his unfortunate experience with a zipper.
  • Opening Credits Sequence: Sheldon is dressed in his normal clothes as a cow approaches the family.


Billy Sparks: Who's Melissa?
Missy: Me.
Billy Sparks: Then who's Missy?
Missy: "Missy" is short for "Melissa." Like how "Billy" is short for "William."
Billy Sparks: I don't understand.
Missy: You know how your real name is William?
Billy Sparks: I'm Billy.
Sheldon: No, we call you Billy, but your real name is William.
Billy Sparks: But my underpants say "Billy" in them. Mom, is my name William?
Brenda Sparks: [sighs] Yeah.
Billy Sparks: Then whose underpants am I wearing?

Pastor Jeff: Two months! Two months till this baby comes! There's so much I thought I was gonna do in my life.
George Sr.: I'm sure you've done plenty.
Pastor Jeff: Nothing cool. Look at you. You played football and rode a motorcycle.
George Sr.: Well, you save people's souls. That's neat, right?
Pastor Jeff: Oh, it's neat as neat can be, but you know that's not what I'm talking about.
George Sr.: [sighs] Look, being a dad doesn't mean your life is over. It just means it's different. Instead of playing football, I get to coach it now. I mean, high school football. Not college like I'd hoped. I-Instead of a motorcycle, I drive a truck. To work every single day. To pay the bills. [sighs] Oh. Endless bills. What happened to my life?
Pastor Jeff: Orange wedge?

Dr. John Sturgis: [v.o.] Dear Connie, you may have heard I've taken a job at the new supercollider in Waxahachie. I wanted to tell you in person, but, uh, I was afraid you'd be upset. And, honestly... I was even more afraid you wouldn't be.
Meemaw: Oh, John.
Dr. John Sturgis: This also gives me an excuse to use my astronaut pen. I'm not upside-down, but if I was, it would still write. [laughs]

Sheldon: I may not look it, but I'm the future of physics, so just move on.

Sheldon: I'm excited to finally use college-ruled paper and not feel like I'm living a lie.
Billy Sparks: What's college-ruled paper?
Sheldon: The lines are 18% closer together.
Billy Sparks: College sounds hard.
Brenda Sparks: You won't have to worry about that, honey.
Billy Sparks: Okay.

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Featured Music

  • I'm Free
    The Soup Dragons

    I'm Free Plays over an aerial shot of the college when Sheldon arrives.

Episode Trivia

  • What color slurpee did a student spill on Sheldon's shirt?
    • Red
    • Blue
    • Orange
    • Green

Episode Recap

As Mary and Brenda take Sheldon, Missy and Billy shopping before the start of school, Sheldon is excited to use college-ruled paper. When Mary reminds Missy to get a present for a birthday next week, Missy tells her it’s “Melissa” now. Billy is confused about who Melissa is, so Missy explains it’s just like he’s called Billy but his real name is William. Billy still doesn’t understand.

When Pastor Jeff thanks George for helping him paint the baby’s room, George says he should thank Mary as she’s the one who made him do it. Outside, Georgie tries to get a motorbike started on the driveway when George sticks his head out the window to ask what he’s doing. When Georgie explains he’s trying to get it started so he can ride it, George tells him like hell he is. Georgie points out his dad doesn’t even use it, but George says that’s because Mary won’t let him. Georgie asks if he can sell it if he manages to get the engine going, but George says no. As George returns to painting, he asks Pastor Jeff why kids are such a pain in the ass - although he’s sure Jeff’s kid will be fine.

As they sit on the couch, Missy tells Sheldon she is pleased with the horse notebook cover she chose. Sheldon thinks it looks like all of her notebooks, but Missy explains that while Missy got ponies, Melissa gets horses. When Mary checks the answer machine, there’s a message from Dr. Sturgis asking to talk to her before Sheldon starts college. Sheldon wonders why John wanted to talk to his mother and not him. The answer machine plays another message from John who said if Sheldon happened to hear that message and was wondering why he wanted to talk to Mary and not him, that’s an excellent question! It’s that kind of curiosity that makes Sheldon a man of science.

When Mary phones Dr. Sturgis back from the phone in her bedroom, she asks if everything’s okay. John says things are great… for him.  As Dr. Sturgis tells Mary about a supercollider being built in Waxahachie, Texas, he admits he’s taken a job there and won’t be at the college when Sheldon starts. Mary points out the only reason she agreed to let Sheldon go to college was because John would be there to look after him. John knows that and feels terrible, but he says this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he couldn’t turn down. Mary hopes John is ready for Sheldon to freak out when he tells him. John was kind of hoping Sheldon would just be excited for him to work at a supercollider. Mary points out being happy for other people isn’t necessarily where Sheldon shines. Later, when Sheldon hears the news from John on the kitchen phone, he is happy for his mentor and understands he couldn’t turn down such an opportunity. Mary gives up.

When Mary visits her mother, she asks Meemaw if she knew John was taking another job. Meemaw is as surprised as she was. Mary explains John just phoned to say he’s taken a job at the supercollider and is already there. As Mary talks about her fears for Sheldon, Meemaw can’t understand why John didn’t mention it to her. She checks her machine and there’s no messages. She knows she and John are not dating anymore, but still. When Mary accuses her mother of focusing on the wrong part of the story. Meemaw gets the gist: Sheldon is small and Mary’s worried about him.

One morning the following week, Sheldon wakes Missy up to ask her advice on his clothes. Missy suggests burning them and getting new ones. Sheldon explains he’s worried about making a good impression at freshman orientation and is wondering which bow tie to wear. Missy jokes they both say weird kid who’ll eat alone. Sheldon says he knows she’s concerned about what to wear to school, too. Missy picks the blue one, arguing the Plaid one is too busy. Missy does point out he could choose not to be a kid wearing a bow tie, but Sheldon says it’s no time to go crazy.

As Mary drives Sheldon to college, she can’t believe her baby’s a college freshman. When Mary wonders what they’re going to do first, Sheldon is confused by the “we”. Sheldon says he can’t be seen walking around campus with his mommy on his first day. Mary thought it might be nice for her to go with him since he doesn’t have Dr. Sturgis around. When Sheldon points out no one else’s mother will be there, Mary says he doesn’t know that. After Sheldon insists his mother won’t be there, Mary says he might want to watch his attitude to the person driving him there. Sheldon says she’s not driving him all the way there; he’d like her to drop him off a block away.

As he helps Pastor Jeff build a crib, George reminisces about building one for Georgie. When Jeff says it’s great having them next door, George wonders if he didn’t hear him yelling at Georgie the other night. Jeff says it’s okay, they’ll probably be hearing his little one crying soon. George says Missy was the crier, while Sheldon just learned to talk and said “Father, I have soiled myself.” When Jeff says Sheldon is a miracle in his own way, George realizes he puts a positive spin on everything. Jeff concedes it comes with the pastor territory. When George wonders what he could do with “Mary and I have not had a proper vacation since the kids were born.”, Pastor Jeff says he believes starting a family is the most rewarding adventure of all. George chuckles and says he’s good; he could not be more wrong, but he’s good.

When Sheldon arrives at a bookstore on campus, he asks where the used physics books are. Usually he would insist on new books, but his father is a football coach, which is another way of saying they’re poor. Elsewhere, a depressed Meemaw listens to the radio and hears President Bush is set to visit the site of the new supercollider in Waxahachie. After she turns her radio off, she hears her doorbell go. Meemaw answers the door to Missy, who reminds her grandmother she promised to show her how to hot-roll her hair. After Missy picks up on the fact she’s cranky, Meemaw wonders if that means she shouldn’t put hot rollers on her head. Missy thinks she’s always cranky, so they should do it anyway.

As Mary reads a newspaper at a cafe as she drinks a coffee, Sam, Sheldon’s former study buddy, stops to talk to her. When Sam asks what brings her there, Mary explains Sheldon is on his freshman orientation. Mary admits she wanted to go with him but Sheldon made it abundantly clear he didn’t want her there. Sam says she doesn’t know Sheldon well but he can be… Mary jumps in with “rude, obnoxious, condescending”. Sam offers to show Mary around campus and buy her a college shirt.

Back in Pastor Jeff’s nursery, Jeff admits he doesn’t feel like he’s helping at all as George builds the cribl. When Jeff asks George if he felt he was ready when Georgie was coming along, George says he did, and boy was he wrong. When George asks if Jeff’s worried, he says if he can’t build a crib how will he be able to take care of a human life? George says he’ll figure it out. There’s no sense worrying about it ‘cause you don’t know what curveballs will be thrown at you. George says the doctors could tell them they were having twins, but they couldn’t warn them they were having a Sheldon. When Pastor Jeff worries he might end up with a Sheldon, George says they broke the mold with that one, but some terror is justified as he might go the other way and end up with a Georgie.

Back at college, Sheldon rushes out of the bookstore after checking his watch. When Sheldon finds Mary trying on a college shirt with Sam, he wonders what she’s doing there. Mary explains she ran into Sam. Sheldon says, “Yes, you’re a person I know”. When Mary asks if he’s supposed to be getting his ID photo taken, Sheldon admits he got a little waylaid. Mary asks if it’s anything she can help with, but Sheldon insists everything is under control. Later, as Sheldon rushes through the corridors of the school, he crashes into a student drinking a slurpee, covering his shirt in red juice.

Back at Meemaw’s, Missy asks if this hairstyle will make her look older. When Meemaw says totally, Missy makes sure it won’t make her “like you older”. When a still smartin’ Meemaw asks if Missy is still dating that Marcus boy, Missy says sort of - he went away with his family for summer. Meemaw wonders if he told her before he left. Missy says he told her a week before, which Meemaw concedes must be nice. Meemaw asks if he has kept in touch? Yes, Missy just got a postcard of a turtle surfing on a dolphin. As Meemaw says that’s adorable, Missy complains she’s pulling kind of hard on her hair.

His shirt is stained and his hair is a sweaty mess when a breathless Sheldon finally reaches the receptionist. When she looks up, she notices a bee on his eyebrow. Elsewhere, Jason asks Sam if Mary is a new student there. After Sam lets him believe she is, he invites them both to a barbecue. Meanwhile, by the time Janet takes Sheldon’s photo, his face is red and inflamed on the side of his face where the bee was.

As Sheldon goes to the bathroom to try to calm down and tidy himself up, Adult Sheldon explains he had faced some setbacks but, like Edison forging ahead on electric lightning without Tesla, he was going to take it through orientation without his mommy - even if she did make his boo-boos stop hurting. Sheldon’s inspiration from Edison is quickly replaced with anger at Whitcomb L. Judson, the inventor of the zipper, as his pants get stuck.

Back at Meemaw’s, Missy asks her grandmother what she thinks of her new, styled hair. Meemaw says she thinks Missy’s going to be a heartbreaker, but Missy doesn’t want to break hearts, just look hot. Meemaw tells her there’s nothing wrong with breaking a few hearts, otherwise men will just do that to them instead. Meemaw complains men sometimes do things without thinking how it will affect you. Missy argues Marcus wouldn’t do that because they’re friends, but Meemaw says that doesn’t mean anything. You think somebody’s your friend and then they just up and leave without a word. When Missy points out Marcus did tell her he was leaving, Meemaw mockingly repeats her words.

Back at college, Sheldon opens his briefcase in a bid to fix his zipper. Unfortunately after taking out a pair of pliers, he rips the zipper straight off his pants. Elsewhere, Pastor Jeff is freaking out that the baby’s due in two months, when there was so much he wanted to do. George is sure he’s done plenty, but Jeff says nothing cool - unlike George who rode a motorcycle and played football. George says being a father doesn’t mean his life is over, just different. Now instead of playing football, he gets to coach it - in highschool, not college like he hoped. Instead of a motorcycle, he drives a truck… to work every day… to pay bills… endless bills. “What happened to my life?”, George wonders.

Back in the college bathroom, Sheldon realizes he only has seven minutes until his orientation. Adult Sheldon explains that although he was in a sticky situation, thankfully, he was armed with an even stickier solution, as Sheldon pulls out a roll of duct tape. Elsewhere, Mary and Sam arrive at a barbecue. Meanwhile, the dean starts to speak to the students at orientation, saying it’s the most competitive year they’ve had for admissions. Sheldon stumbles through the door - his shirt stained, his hair a mess, his eye red and inflamed, and duct tape tied around his pants and arm. Sheldon tells them, although he may not look it, he’s the future of physics.

Back at the barbecue, a student, Clarissa, can’t believe Mary has kids - three of them, in fact, and two of them were twins. Mary doesn’t want to brag but mentions it was a natural birth, too. As the young students compliment her appearance, Mary declares she loves college. Elsewhere, Meemaw checks her mailbox and finds a letter from John. In the letter, John says Meemaw may have heard about his new job. He wanted to tell her in person, but was afraid she would be upset, and honestly, more afraid she wouldn’t be. As Meemaw looks up, Pastor Jeff is a passenger on George’s motorcycle as the pair ride down the street. Pastor Jeff has never felt so alive, praising the Lord, and saying they should go to Mexico.

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