Recap: A mixer is in full swing in the cafeteria...and Mrs. Garrett urges Natalie and Tootie, who are hiding out in the lounge area, to mingle and talk to boys. The two tentatively check out the partygoers, and Tootie spots a dorkish looking boy standing alone and encourages Natalie to go over and talk to him. Natalie's like, "Aw what the hell" and walks over to him, babbles nonsense, and introduces herself. The dork introduces himself as Neil Richards and tells her he's a sophomore at Bates Academy. Natalie nervously rattles off a few more jokes, and Neil smiles appreciatively and tells her she has a good sense of humor, then says she's different than all the other girls...and by different, he means she obviously doesn't care about her looks. Ouch. Natalie looks suitably insulted, so Neil tries to pretend as though he didn't mean that jab about her hair/clothes/pink ribbon necktie/chubby frumpiness in a bad way. He asks her if she'd like to study with him, and the two make plans to meet in the library tomorrow afternoon. Natalie scurries back to the lounge and excitedly tells Tootie, "I think I just swept someone off his feet!"
The next day, Tootie nervously paces across the bedroom, muttering, "Where can Natalie be? It's almost six o'clock!" so Blair reminds her she's at the library, studying with Neil. Tootie shakes her head disapprovingly and says she doesn't like it, then wails, "What if something happened to her?!" A few seconds later, Natalie enters the room with a huge smile on her face. Tootie's like, "Tell us everything!" so Natalie regales the girls with the details of her riveting study date: she and Neil met at the library and sat at a table in the corner. She then gets a dreamy look on her face and says, "Our algebra books were touching" and announces that Neil asked her out! To a movie! Tootie lights up and exclaims, "Your first real date!" and points out that she'll finally have something exciting to write in her diary. LOL. Natalie abruptly stops smiling and says she suddenly feels nauseous about the date and wonders what in the hell she's going to talk to Neil about for four hours. Jo points out that they won't have to talk during the movie, or while they're chewing if they go grab a bite somewhere...but Natalie still looks stressed. Blair smugly offers to impart to her everything she knows about being charming and popular...and Jo gets in on that action and shares her extensive expertise about boys, dating, and teenage pre-marital relations.
A few days later, Natalie, Blair, and Jo return to the cafeteria after class. Mrs. Garrett says she's been taking phone messages from boys all day - and to Blair's surprise, they're all for Natalie. Natalie goes through the messages and says she got calls from Neil, Tom, Henry, and Brian. She scrunches her face in confusion and asks Mrs. Garrett if she's sure that none of these messages were for Blair, and Mrs. Garrett confirms that - yes - difficult as it might be to believe or fathom, they're all for her. Blair gets a phone call from some guy named Johnny, but it turns out he's only calling to see if Natalie's available for a quickie. After Blair ends the disturbing call, she broadcasts to everyone that Natalie's been getting all this attention from boys because Neil's been telling everyone she's "real easy to get along with - as in, real easy". Natalie's all, "Wha-a?!" and moans about her tarnished reputation, so Mrs. Garrett urges her to set the record straight and give that cad a piece of her mind. Blair says the whole thing is so silly, since anyone who knows Natalie wouldn't believe rumors of her sluttiness for a minute. She points at Natalie and says, "You - a sex symbol..?!" then bursts out laughing. Jo and Tootie start laughing too, and Natalie looks peeved and snarks, "It's not that funny." A few seconds later, Neil calls - and the girls urge Natalie to "blast him". Natalie shoots them a oh yeah? look, then strides over to the phone and loudly tells Neil that they're definitely on for Saturday night. Hee! The girls are all, "Wha-at are you doing?!" and ask her if she's gone crazy - so she tells them, on the contrary, she's finally come to her senses and is becoming the slut she always knew she wanted to be. She declares, "From now on it's goodbye Natalie, hello hot lips!" Yikes.
Nancy, Cindy, and Sue Ann - who are making yet another impromptu appearance on the show - are sitting together in the cafeteria, bitchily gossiping about Natalie "going out" with Neil...and Cindy cattily remarks that every guy at Bates is trying to get a date with her. Tootie storms over and demands to know what they're saying about Natalie, so Cindy comes right out and says that Natalie's gaining a horrible reputation - much like "Home Run Helen", a pretty brunette who happens to be sitting at the next table, and can hear them. Jo storms over and snarls at the snarky bitches to watch their mouths 'cause Natalie's their friend. Nancy argues that Natalie is being a total slut by going out with so many guys - so Jo points out that they're just afternoon study dates. Sue Ann sanctimoniously retorts that a loose girl can just as easily doink guys during the afternoon hours as the evening hours, but Tootie insists that Natalie is still as pure as the driven snow. Cue Natalie who, at that moment, emerges from the kitchen with a hot tray of food and shrieks, "Hot stuff comin'!" Blair asks her why she made so many study dates with different boys, knowing that Neil had sullied her name, and Natalie just shrugs and says, "It's better than studying alone." Jo tells her that the boys are dragging her name through the gutter and that she'd like to punch them, but Natalie insists she doesn't need anyone to defend her honor. As Nancy and Sue Ann taunt Natalie about her 'ho-ishness, she just grins suggestively and says, "I'm having a good time." Nancy, Sue Ann, and Cindy look appalled and "joke" about how Natalie should room with Home Run Helen, who's still sitting at the next table and can still hear them. Natalie joins Helen at her table and asks if the insulting nickname bothers her...but Helen just shrugs and says, "Not anymore." Natalie asks her what home run means, so Helen gives her a sly smile and says, "Just what you think it means." She says she couldn't care less what three catty bitches who were let go as permanent cast members after Season 1 think of her and says, "Who needs them? I have a lot of company." Helen asks Natalie why she does it...and Natalie just grimaces and says, "For the same reason you do it" then gathers up Helen's food tray and heads into the kitchen, bellowing, "Make way for the trash!" Tootie irritably tells her to stop talking like that, and Jo warns her that people are starting to believe the rumors that she suddenly became a sex-crazed skank who puts out during study dates at the library. Natalie reminds them about the douchebaggish way they laughed at the notion of her being a sex symbol, snarks, "Maybe the rumors are true!" and storms upstairs.
Natalie is angrily studying in her room when Mrs. Garrett enters and tells her that her ruse as a faux 'ho has gone on long enough. Natalie says she hasn't actually been sleeping around, and Mrs. Garrett rolls her eyes and is like, "Well duh" and chides her for allowing people to think she has. Natalie grumbles about how annoyed she is that her friends just assumed she couldn't be popular with boys, but Mrs. Garrett points out that what they were assuming was that she wouldn't suddenly start slutting around with every Neil, Tom, and Henry. She tells Natalie she'll never be happy with choices that have been made out of spite, and Natalie hangs her head and looks suitably chastised, Tootie enters the room to announce that Neil has arrived - then assures Natalie they're still best friends, despite the nasty rumors.
Jo and Blair are glaring at Neil as he sheepishly waits in the lounge for Natalie. Jo demands to know why he wants to talk to Natalie, then warns that he should think of her as Natalie's violence-prone, butchy older sister. Blair gets in on that action and orders Neil to leave Natalie alone - otherwise she'll sic Jo on him and allow her to break his legs. Neil tells them he came by to cancel his date with Natalie...and suddenly Natalie enters the room and goes, "Why?" He says everyone's been tittering about her "hot dates" with other boys, then says she has a really bad reputation. She insists she didn't do anything with those boys, and he retorts, "That's not what I heard." She counter-retorts, "I didn't do anything with you - but that's not what I heard." Hee! He explains that his idiot friends grilled him after their first study date...and he wanted them to think he was cool and experienced, so he embellished - but Blair corrects him and barks, "Lied!" Neil says he never dreamed that the other guys would call up Natalie to get some of what he claimed he was getting...but predictably they did, then came back with implausible stories of wild study date sex. He shakes his head in disbelief and says he's surprised the guys would lie like that, so Blair barks, "You lied!" and Jo explains to the halfwit that the other boys couldn't very well come back with nothing after he had pretended to score. Natalie admonishes him for ruining her reputation as an unstylish, self-deprecating virgin, and Neil concedes that it was a rotten thing to do. She tells him she understands what he was going through, 'cause she wanted her friends to think she was popular with boys, which is why she went out with anyone who asked. She explains that they were reacting to teen pressure, and that she read all about it in Teen Magazine. He looks over at her admiringly and tells her she's great and asks her if she can forgive and forget, but she scrunches her face and goes, "Nah.." and says that an apology isn't enough. He asks her what he can do to make it up to her, and she orders him to un-tell all the lies he told his friends. He agrees and says he owes it to her, then apologizes again and sheepishly heads out.
Blair and Jo compliment Natalie on the way she handled Neil, and Natalie says she can't wait until he's told everyone the truth and crawls back to her on his hands and knees. "Then I can go out with him again!" she chirps, and the three cackle together just before the credits roll. That was kind of a weird, mixed message for the kids out there.
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