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Howard and Bernadette can't keep a caregiver for the incapacitated Mrs. Wolowitz. The comic book store suffers damage due to an accidental fire. Penny and Leonard announce their engagement and look for new living arrangements. All these changes really upset Sheldon as he decides to take a train trip.
While unpacking dinner at Sheldon and Leonard's place, Howard explains how, to date, they have lost two nurses because his mother is so impossible. After Raj arrives, Leonard reaches for Penny and the two of them announce that their engagement. Everybody is excited over their engagement; however, Raj thought that the big news would be him spending the night with Emily since Leonard and Penny propose all the time, which Bernadette points out. Penny agrees so the engaged couple join in Raj's celebration.
At Caltech, Raj says that he is so hungry since he had sex the other night. Sheldon arrives and is upset because President Siebert won't let him change his field of study to inflationary cosmology since he was hired to work on string theory and all his grant money is designated for that field. He also told Sheldon that sometimes one has to do things they don't want to do like "look at Sheldon's stupid face". He is tempted to leave the university. Howard offers him a job looking after his mother. Leonard tells him to not make any rash decisions, while Raj feels that to relieve his tension he should have sex.
At his mother's house, Howard and Bernadette lose their third care taker who leaves saying that life is too short. They are worried that the agency won't send anyone new. Howard feels that they have to face the fact that they will have to take care of her. Bernie doesn't want to use up her vacation being a nurse; she wants to go to Hawaii, not "Hell". She accepts that Howard's family's problems are hers too and then kids him as she asks for a divorce.
Leonard contacts his mother and has an announcement for her. Sheldon has already told her about his engagement to Penny. He hates that she talks to Sheldon more than him, but declines to communicate to his mother on a more frequent basis. She has had her misgivings about Penny, but because of Sheldon's admiration, she is good enough for her. Leonard is annoyed that his mother's focus is on herself, and not on who might be good enough for him. Beverly wonders why Leonard has to have her approval, and tells him that he should work on getting over his need for her approval.Penny calls home and tells her mother about her engagement. She explains that he is the scientist who works with lasers and "atomic magnets" that she has been seeing for two years. Her mother is happy that she is not pregnant, which is a first for their family. Amy scoffs at the term "atomic magnets". Bernadette arrives late after caring for her mother-in-law. Her advice to Penny is that she is also marrying his family. Penny thinks that Beverly Hofstadter is fine with her. Bernadette says the issue is not whether her mother-in-law likes her, but whether she can go to the toilet by herself. She takes a glass of wine, downs it and asks for another. Penny notes that they haven't yet decided on their living arrangements. Penny quips that she is not working, and Bernadette pipes in with "You're not working?" She offers Penny the job of taking care of her mother-in-law and will pay her "anything she wants". Penny tries to do it; however, after a very short while she tells them to keep their money.
Sheldon is composing a letter to the faculty senate as an appeal to change their decision. His letter contains his usual condescending attitude: that they won't understand what he does. Leonard wants to discuss their living arrangements. Sheldon figures that Leonard wants to preserve the myth of Penny's virginity before the get married. Instead, Leonard wants to move in with Penny. Sheldon offers a one day a week trial period except "when she is cranky during her monthly time shedding her uterus lining". Leonard thanks him; however, he notes that he and Penny want to move in together... without Sheldon. He doesn't understand: how can they all move in together when he is not there! Leonard realizes that change is scary for Sheldon. One suggestion is that he and Penny live in Apartment 4A and Sheldon could move in across the hall. Sheldon wonders if Leonard has taken marijuana, or if he has been hit in the head with a coconut. Leonard says that he loves Penny and wants to give her what she deserves. Sheldon is incensed that Leonard wants to consider his fiancee's well-being over his. He stomps off to his bedroom.
Later, Sheldon is at Amy's place complaining about all the changes: the university won't let him change his field of study, and Leonard doesn't want to live with him anymore. Amy made him some strawberry Quik, which he says won't solve his problems, but does visibly calm him down. Amy points out that he is always complaining how lousy a roommate Leonard is and maybe it would be good for him to live alone. Sheldon says that perhaps that is true. Amy then continues by saying that if it turns out that he doesn't like living alone, and then maybe they could move in together. Sheldon screams that she would "love that", and "why don't we get engaged, buy a house, start a family and spend our sunset years together!" Amy counters that it was just a thought. Sheldon demands that nothing change and everything stay the way it is. He also points out that Amy also made the Quik with the syrup instead of the powder; it tastes better this way, and he dislikes it.
Leonard is making chili for himself and Penny since Penny's cooking skills are poor. They begin to talk about a date for the wedding. She wants it to fit into her brother's schedule, who is "out in 12 to 18 months depending on good behavior" (meaning he is still in prison). Amy comes in looking for Sheldon who stormed off and isn't answering his phone. She mentions that he flipped out over her suggestion that he move out so they could live together. He was so upset he couldn't understand her great idea that she and Sheldon move in together. Leonard says that he has had a couple of rough days and probably needs time to decompress. Amy sits down and asks what they are doing; Penny says they are having a nice dinner together as a newly engaged couple, and Leonard adds that maybe Sheldon just needs some time alone - a lot of people need that. Finally Penny tells Amy to get out and she leaves.
Stuart is sweeping his blackened and wet comic book store that is in complete disarray. Sheldon enters and Stuart tells him that the store was damaged by a fire due to an accident with a hot plate. He was across the street using the car wash as a shower. Stuart tells him that he won't re-open until after he talks to the insurance company. "Tomorrow?" asks Sheldon. Stuart levels with Sheldon that his life is falling apart at the moment. Sheldon then goes on about all his troubles including a girlfriend that loves him (!) so much that she wants him to move in with her. Also, the comic book store is damp and smells funny. Sheldon offers to help Stuart get back on his feet and tries to buy a comic book. Stuart asks for $2.99 and Sheldon says that it's wet; Stuart drops the price to a dollar, but doesn't have any change for Sheldon. Sheldon storms out after telling Stuart he is not the only one whose day was a disaster. As Stuart carries a box over to the counter, part of the roof falls where he had been standing and he wishes that it had killed him.
Penny and Leonard are watching television, and Leonard gets worried because Sheldon hasn't come home. He uses his cell phone to track him down; Leonard has known his password ever since Sheldon wandered off chasing a balloon when they attended a swap meet. Penny thinks that he'll be fine. Leonard nonetheless finds out that he is at the train station. He reasons that even though he loves trains, it's late and they should go get him. Penny tells him how sweet he is to worry about Sheldon; Leonard however is just doing it because his mother would kill him if anything ever happened to Sheldon.
Raj and Howard are surveying the damage at the comic book store. They wonder if he did it for the insurance money, which Stuart admits that everybody else thought. Raj tells him if he needs anything to just ask. Stuart is looking for a place to sleep, but doesn't want to prevent Raj from having his sleepover with Emily. Howard says that he has a place where he could stay and earn some money, but it does come with humiliation, verbal abuse and degradation. Stuart still asks him what the catch is.
Penny and Leonard find Sheldon at the Los Angeles Union train station. Sheldon realizes that they used his phone. "One chases one balloon for three miles and..." Penny tells him that they were worried. Sheldon nonchalantly comments that he is merely getting on a train and leaving forever. He has no clothes so he will be stopping at malls and buying what he needs (in his words living off the land). Leonard wants him to come home and work things out, while Sheldon feels that he's passed the breaking point. He'll live like a hobo, but with a credit card. Due to all the changes in his life, Sheldon has to get away and think. Penny says that they should let him go and that it will be good for him. He is a grown man; however Leonard comments that sometimes little people are in big people bodies like in "Freaky Friday". Penny tells Leonard that "he taught him well, Padawan". Sheldon scoffs because Padawan was the student and not the teacher in Star Wars. Leonard wishes him good luck and Penny kisses him on the cheek telling him to be safe and call them. Leonard admits that he is going to miss him and Sheldon agrees, making leaving him there easier. At Howard's mother's house, Stuart loves his new job. He sees Howard and
Bernadette sitting in the living room and tells them to go home. Howard's mom calls him "Stewie" and Stuart is calling her "Debbie". He leaves, thanking them for his dream job. Even though the situation is weird, Stuart still insists they leave, and they do so willingly.
At apartment 4A, Amy is on the phone with Sheldon. She finishes her call and says that he was happy and sounded good. Penny says that it is all for the best. Leonard adds that he can take a sabbatical as Amy hits him with a pillow screaming "How could you let him go?!?!"
- Guest starring:
- Teleplay: Eric Kaplan, Jim Reynolds & Jeremy Howe
- Story: Steven Molaro, Steve Holland & Tara Hernandez
- Jesse Schedeen for IGN- "Overall, this episode managed to live up to its name more than I might have expected. Things are finally changing on a sitcom where the status quo has always been pretty rigid and slow to evolve. It could be argued that the writers are guilty of returning to the same season-ending trope they so often rely upon. Once again, the season wraps up with a major character taking a dramatic trip and leaving the rest of the gang anxiously waiting his return. In this case, there's an element of unpredictability that should be fun. We have no idea where Sheldon will go or what he'll do on his cross-country travels. The potential is there for all sorts of new Sheldon-centric stories. Or he could just follow Leonard's example and come back quickly without really accomplishing anything." 
- Dhruv Rao of The DR Club gave the episode an A-, "we were proven wrong when this season had its due course. Every character had his/her own screen time which in turn gave them a richer character development."
- IMDb user reviews
- Title Reference: The changes in everybody's lives which includes the comic book store burning down.
- Taping date: April 22, 2014.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card. 
- This episode was watched by 16.73 million people with a rating of 4.9 (adults 18-49).
- Total viewers including DVR users 24.13 million.
- The Big Bang Theory was ranked #1 for the week ending 18 May 2014.
- This episode aired in Canada on May 15, 2014.
- In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on 10 July 2014.
- Episode transcript 
- Sheldon wears his light blue TV test pattern t-shirt , his Quantum t-shirt from Thinker Collection , and his red 20-sided dice t-shirt .
- Penny wears a blue sleveless folded collar silk blouse adorned with hearts, made by Equipment Colleen and sold by Piperlime.
- For the first time, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik have appeared in every episode of a season.
- Since becoming regulars, Rauch has been absent from nine episodes of season 4 (1: S4E1, 2: S4E2, 3: S4E3, 4: S4E6, 5: S4E7, 6: S4E11, 7: S4E12, 8: S4E15 & 9: S4E18), two episodes of season 5 (1: S5E2 & 2: S5E6), and 1 episode of season 6 (1: S6E8) and Bialik has been absent from nine episodes of season 4 (1: S4E2, 2: S4E4, 3: S4E6, 4: S4E7, 5: S4E9, 6: S4E11, 7: S4E12, 8: S4E18 & 9: S4E23), three episodes of season 5 (1: S5E7, 2: S5E20 & 3: S5E21), and two episodes of season 6 (1: S6E8 & 2: S6E22).
- Stuart's Comic Book Store suffers fire damage after he has an accident with his hot plate.
- Sheldon takes to the rails after too many changes occur in his life. As a contrast, he is sensitive of hobos on the train in "The Locomotive Manipulation" (S7E15).
- Stuart begins a new job as Mrs. Wolowitz's caregiver.
- Mrs. Wolowitz's first name is revealed to be Debbie.
- When complaining to Stuart, Sheldon tells him that his girlfriend loves him so much that she wants him to move in with her. That's the first time love has ever been mentioned in the Shamy relationship and even more incredible that Sheldon saw it and acknowledged it.
- The second episode where someone attacks Leonard for damaging Shamy. First was "The Pulled Groin Extrapolation" (S5E3) - Sheldon karate chops Leonard in the back, giving him a message "She is not for you!", clearly concerned about how well Amy and Leonard got on.
- After saying that Sheldon could move across the hall, Sheldon asks him if he has been hit in the head with a coconut. That was the logical suggestion that little Spock gave to Sheldon for his situation in one of his dreams in "The Transporter Malfunction" (S5E20).
- Despite his fondness for Amy, Sheldon had no farewell scene with her.
- Penny out of character doesn't comfort Amy when she falls apart over Sheldon's departure.
- Last full episode (in two years) that Penny have long hair. Her hair is chopped off into a pixie style hairdo in the following season after Kaley changed her hair style.
- This episode is the second where Sheldon tries to leave Pasadena forever. The first was "The Bozeman Reaction" (S3E13).
- Even though Penny denies to her mother that she is pregnant, she did have the fear of getting married in that condition when Leonard asked her out again in season 5.
- Penny's fear of getting married and being pregnant from "The Recombination Hypothesis" (S5E13) is revisited as she wants to prove to her family that she is not getting married due to a pregnancy like her sister.
- This is the third consecutive season finale where one of the main characters leaves Pasadena. Unlike the other departures which were expeditions, this departure was a Sabbatical. Each of the jouneys were less epic than the previous journey.
- In both this episode and "The Colonization Application" (S8E17), Sheldon plans to leave without first consulting Amy.
- First time Penny mentions Leonard's mother to Bernadette of whom she still hasn't met since "The Maternal Congruence" (S3E11) of which was a Season 3 episode that Bernadette didn't appear in.
- Leonard: You can move across the hall.
- Sheldon: Move across the hall? Did you take a marijuana?
- Leonard: No.
- Amy: Atomic magnets?
- Penny: Shut up.
- (Enter the sarcastically grumpy Bernadette who complains to Penny)
- Bernadette: (she's complaining sarcastically) Sorry I’m late. The leaf blower broke, so I had to hand-dry my mother-in-law.
- (The sound of door slamming is played to the concerned Penny and Amy)
- Penny: You want some wine?
- Bernadette: (out of vision) Thanks. (she strides up to Penny's table looking very cross) Little warning before you jump into this marriage business. You’re not just marrying him, you’re marrying his family.
- (Penny gives Bernadette her glass of wine)
- Penny: I think Leonard’s mom’s okay with me.
- Bernadette: (she is still very cross) It doesn’t matter if she’s okay with you. The question is, can she go to the bathroom by herself? Hit me again.
- Amy: So, what are the living arrangements gonna be?
- Penny: Well, haven’t really talked about it yet, but I figure at some point, I’ll move in with him, or he’ll move in with me.
- Amy: Well, with you not working, that makes financial sense.
- Bernadette: (she's excited) You’re not working. How would you like a job in home health care?
- Penny: (grumpily) Not a chance.
- Bernadette: (she's begging Penny) Please. I’m desperate.
- Penny: No.
- Bernadette: (suggesting nervously) I’ll pay you anything you want.
- Penny: Okay, then, yeah.
- (Bernadette smiles proudly at Penny for a second)
- Bernadette: She’s just so impossible, they keep quitting.
- Sheldon: So, who’s watching her now?
- Howard: A bowlful of M&M’s with a few Ambien tossed in.
- Leonard: Okay. Now that everyone’s here, Penny and I have some big news.
- Penny: We’re engaged!
- Raj: Oh my goodness! And I thought me having sex with Emily would be the big news. [Hugging.]
- Leonard: Hey, hey. What the hell?
- Bernadette: You guys propose all the time. This never happens.
- Penny: You’re right! [Hugging.]
- Leonard: Hey, buddy.
- Sheldon: Hello.
- Leonard: You okay?
- Sheldon: I just got called into President Siebert’s office. The university won’t let me switch my field of study to inflation cosmology. They are forcing me to continue with string theory.
- Howard: Why?
- Sheldon: He said it’s why they hired me, it’s what my grant was designated for and that everybody has to do things they don’t want to do. He then gave an example of something he had to do even though he didn't want to do which was look at my stupid face.
- Leonard: That was a rude thing to say…out loud.
- Howard: Oh, come on, give her a chance.
- Nurse: No. Life, it is too short.
- (Bernadette runs after the nurse who ignores her with a loud whimper of anger)
- Bernadette: (from the lounge to out of vision) I know you’ve only been here a day and a half, but you’re like part of the family.
- (The sound of door slamming is played to Howard looking down at the doorway for one second and goes back into the lounge with Bernadette behind him)
- Bernadette: (she is still a bit cross) I don’t think the service is gonna send any more people.
- Howard: Yeah, maybe it’s time we just release Ma back into the sea.
- Bernadette: (she is now very, very cross) That’s not helpful.
- Howard: Well, then, we may need to get used to the idea that we’re gonna be living here the next few months.
- Bernadette: (1st time: she's still very cross) But we have jobs. We can’t baby-sit her 24 hours a day.
- Howard: Well, what if we use our vacation time?
- Bernadette: (2nd time: she's still very cross) I wanted go to Hawaii, not hell.
- Howard: I don’t know what else we can do.
- Bernadette: Howie, I love you, and as your wife, your mother is every bit as much my problem as she is yours, so, I want a divorce.
- Beverly: Let me save you all of your hemming and hawing. Sheldon already told me that you and Penny are engaged.
- Leonard: I hate that you talk to him more than you talk to me.
- Beverly: Would you like for you and me to talk more?
- Leonard: You know what? It’s probably fine.
- Beverly: In any event, while I've had my misgivings about…Penny…Sheldon spoke very fondly of her, and if she is good enough for him, then she’d good enough for me.
- Leonard: I’m your son. What about the fact that she’s good enough for me?
- Beverly: Sure.
- Leonard: Thanks, Mom.
- Beverly: Leonard, would it make you feel better if your Mother approved of your life choices?
- Leonard: Yes, it would.
- Beverly: Yeah, well, you should work on that.
- Penny: No, Mom. It’s the same guy I've been going out with for the last two years. Yeah, the scientist. Well, it’s complicated. I mean, he works with lasers and atomic magnets. No, I did not see it coming. No, we did not set a date. No, I am not pregnant. Yeah, this is a first for our family. All right. Tell Dad I love him. I gotta go. Right. Bye.
- Leonard: So listen. There was something I hoped to float past you. Now that Penny and I are engaged I thought we might want to talk about our living arrangements.
- Sheldon: Of course. She has spent many nights here and you’re worried about preserving the myth of her virginity before the wedding.
- Leonard: I’m not.
- Sheldon: Good. Because not only has that ship sailed, but if it hit an iceberg countless men would perish.
- Leonard: Actually this is about where she and I are going to live.
- Sheldon: What do you mean?
- Leonard: Well, well. We might want to live together.
- Sheldon: Oh yeah, well. I have already given this some thought and I’m willing to let Penny live with us one day a week for a trial period. Now; obviously not when she is made cranky by the shedding of her uterine lining.
- Leonard: That’s very sweet. But we were thinking more of us maybe living together…with not you.
- Sheldon: I don’t understand. How can we all live together if I’m not there?
- Leonard: Look I know this is…this is a change, and that sounds scary, but…
- Sheldon: Where are you going to go?
- Leonard: Well, I don’t know. We’re just starting to think about this. Maybe I’ll move in with Penny or maybe she and I’ll take this place and you can move across the hall.
- Sheldon: Move across the hall? Did you take a marijuana?
- Leonard: No, I did not.
- Sheldon: Did you get hit on the head with a coconut?
- Leonard: No.
- Sheldon: Then I’m all out of guesses. What? Move across the hall.. Why would you even suggest such a thing?
- Leonard: Because I love Penny and want to give her the life she deserves.
- Sheldon: I see. You’re putting your future bride’s happiness above mine.
- Leonard: Well, yeah.
- Sheldon: Wow.
- Amy: This might work out for the best. I mean, you’re always complaining what a terrible roommate he is. Like how he turns up the thermostat when you’re not there.
- Sheldon: Ugh. It’s like walking into the Amazon. And not the good Amazon with one-day shipping. The awful one with bird and snakes.
- Amy: You hate the sound of all those keys on this key chain.
- Sheldon: Four keys! I mean, what does he think he is, a warden?
- Amy: See, maybe you’ll love living alone.
- Sheldon: I don’t know. Perhaps.
- Amy: And if it turns out you don’t…you and I could live together.
- Sheldon: You and…Oh sure. You would love that. And while we’re at it why don’t we get engaged, too. Why don’t get a little house and start a family? Enjoy our sunset years together. Do you hear yourself, woman?
- Amy: Sheldon, it was just a thought.
- Sheldon: No! Here’s a thought. You’re not moving in, Leonard’s not moving out. Everything stays exactly the way it is.
- Leonard: So should we talk about setting a date?
- Penny: Well, I’d like to pick one that works with my brother’s schedule.
- Leonard: Okay. When would that be?
- Penny: Uh, 12 to 18 months from now depending upon good behavior.
- Stuart: I don’t mean to be rude, Sheldon, but my life’s kind of falling apart right now.
- Sheldon: Your life? The university is making me do string theory. And my girlfriend loves me so much she wants to live with me. And now, the place I need to go when I’m sad smells funny.
- Howard: Don’t take this the wrong way, but did you do this for the insurance money?
- Stuart: No. Oh God, you sound like the police, the firemen, my parents, my therapist and the insurance company.
- Leonard: Sheldon.
- Sheldon: You tracked my phone?
- Leonard: Yeah.
- Sheldon: Boy, you chase one balloon for three miles.
- Penny: We were worried about you.
- Sheldon: Don’t be melodramatic. I’m just getting on a train and leaving forever.
- Leonard: Seriously? You don’t even have change of clothes or a toothbrush.
- Sheldon: My plan is to stop at malls and buy what I need. It’s called living off the land.
- Leonard: Okay. I know you’re upset and they’re a lot of stuff going on, but it’s nothing we can’t workout. Come on, let’s get you home.
- Sheldon: No, I've reached my breaking point. I need to leave. Now.
- Penny: And go where?
- Sheldon: It doesn't matter.
- Leonard: So a few things don’t go your way and your best decision is to ride the rails like a hobo?
- Sheldon: I suppose it is. Except I have a credit card. And I refuse to carry my laptop on the end of a stick. And I’d sooner die than eat beans out of a can.
- Leonard: Come on, come home with us and tomorrow I’ll take you to Legoland.
- Sheldon: Legoland is not the solution to everything. And it’s too much of a scene since that movie came out.
- Leonard: Then what can I do?
- Sheldon: Leonard, I am overwhelmed. Everything is changing and it’s simply too much. I need to get away and think.
- Leonard: Oh, come on. You know you’re overreacting.
- Penny: Leonard, hang on. Just come here. Maybe you need to let him go.
- Leonard: What? Why?
- Penny: It might be good for him.
- Leonard: You know he can’t take trip like this himself.
- Penny: He’s a grown man.
- Leonard: No, he looks like a grown man. You've seen “Freaky Friday”. Sometimes little kids end up in big person bodies.
- Penny: Leonard, we can’t protect him forever.
- Leonard: I know, but…
- Penny: He’ll be okay. You taught him well, Padawan.
- Sheldon: Good Lord. Padawan’s the student, not the teacher.
- Penny: Seriously, let him go.
- Leonard: Sheldon, if you really need to do this I’m not gonna stand in your way.
- Sheldon: I do.
- Leonard: Okay. Good luck.
- Penny: Be safe and call us.
- Sheldon: I will.
- Leonard: Bye, buddy. Sheldon.
- Sheldon: Yes.
- Leonard: I’m gonna miss you.
- Sheldon: Of course you are.
- Leonard: He just made that easier.
- Stuart: Hey. What are you guys still doing here? I got this, go. Go home.
- Howard: You sure?
- Stuart: Yeah, she’s fed, she took her pills, she’s all tucked in and watching TV.
- Bernadette: (she's asking Stuart crossly) So, she’s not too much for you?
- Stuart: Are you kidding? I love her, she’s great.
- Mrs Wolowitz (off): Stewie, you gonna watch Wheel of Fortune with me?
- Stuart: Coming, Debbie.
- Howard: You call her Debbie?
- Stuart: She insisted. So, hey, guys, thank you so much. This job is a dream come true.
- (Stuart now exits the lounge)
- Howard: Was that a little weird?
- Bernadette: (she's confused) Yeah. I don’t know why, but something about it feels unnatural.
- Howard: Okay, let’s go.
- Bernadette: Yep.
- (They both start leave the couch with excitement)
- Amy: Okay, Sheldon, thanks for checking in. Talk to you tomorrow? Okay, bye.
- Leonard: He’s okay?
- Amy: Actually sounds like he doing pretty well.
- Penny: I really think this is going to be for the best.
- Leonard: Me too. And he was able to take a sabbatical…
- Amy: [Hitting Leonard with a pillow, screaming] HOW COULD YOU LET HIM GO?
- (The montage scene at Mrs. Wolowtiz's house where Penny is running past the settee where Howard and Bernadette are sitting down)
- Penny: (strips off her last yellow rubber glove whilst exiting) No, keep your money.
- (Penny drops the yellow rubber gloves on the floor and now exits, The sound of door closing is played to the confused Howard and Bernadette listening to the TV on the couch with expressions of 'Oh, no, here we go with the nursing again')
- Bernadette: (she grunts crossly to herself) I could’ve ridden a bull longer than that.
- (Howard looks at his wife for a second at the sarcastic thing she had said crossly).