Recap: Tootie and Natalie burst into the cafeteria, and Tootie urges Natalie to call some guy she likes named Alan. When Natalie's clearly too bashful to make the first move, Tootie calls her a chicken, goes, "Baawk baawk baawk" and flaps her elbows. Mrs. Garrett asks whassup, so Tootie blabs about how Natalie wants to ask Alan to be her partner in the upcoming dance contest, but is too afraid of rejection. At that moment, a black teenager enters the cafeteria, introduces himself as Fred, and tells Mrs. Garrett he's there to restock the candy machine. Apparently he's the nephew of the usual guy who stocks it. Mrs. Garrett asks him if he knows what he's doing, and Fred runs his hands over his 'fro and cockily retorts, "Please. I am so together, you cannot tell where I begin and where I end." As the laugh track goes berserk, Tootie gives the confident lad an appreciative once over, and makes it clear that she likes the cut of his jib.
Jo and Blair arrive, and Jo brings Tootie's sketchbook that she accidentally left in the library. Blair sarcastically asks Jo what she was doing in the library - reading Dumbo? and Jo glares at her and goes, "I don't have to read Dumbo in the library. I bunk next to her." I notice that Jo seems to really enjoy lobbing fat jokes at Blair - even though they just kind of hang there while Blair winces in mortification a few seconds before the laugh track kicks in. Mrs. Garrett looks over Tootie's sketchbook and admires her dress designs. Tootie says she wants to design some clothes but doesn't have any fabric - and Blair suddenly perks up and says she has a brilliant idea: her dad just sent her some fabulous fabric from Hong Kong, which Tootie can use to design a dress for her for the dance. She remarks that the dress won't use up too much material since she's only a size 7, and Jo scrunches her face and quips, "Where? Yuh feet?" [Fat jokes: 2; snappy retorts: 0] Mrs. Garrett asks Blair who she's pairing up with for the dance contest, and Blair says she's not entering the contest 'cause Tootie and Carl are unbeatable and are expected to win, just like they do every year. Tootie looks fake modest about her dancing skills and asks, "What makes you say that?" then murmurs, "Cha cha cha" while performing an impromptu twirl and capping it off by sticking one arm straight in the air. LOL. Mrs. Garrett gets in on that action and tells the girls that back in the day she was the jitterbug queen of Wisconsin, then gives them a needless demonstration of her cringe-tastic dance moves. Fred, who's still stocking candy, looks over and is all, "Wha-a?"
Once the room clears out, Tootie introduces herself to Fred, and he offers her a free candy bar. He asks her what it's like to go to school in a place like this, and she replies, "It's a cross between summer camp and Sing Sing." He chuckles condescendingly and clarifies, "I mean - you got any sistahs here?" Tootie says no, but that she's got two brothers at home - and Fred shakes his head at her cluelessness and tells her she has to get with it and asks, "Don't you know a sistah from a sister?" and Tootie nods blankly and goes, "Uh huh." Fred accuses her of attending school in an ivory tower, then asks, "You know what color ivory is?" and Tootie finally grasps that he's talking about skin color, so she sassily snaps, "Somebody must have slam-dunked your brain." She tells him she's happy at Eastland and that her friends treat her as an equal. Cue Blair, who suddenly rushes into the room with a roll of fabric and describes for Tootie the kind of dress she'd like her to sew (something with spaghetti straps) - and Fred raises his eyebrows and is all "Wha-a?" After Blair scampers off, Fred derisively asks, "You doin' her laundry too?" so Tootie insists she really does want to make Blair's dress. Fred sourly retorts, "And our people wanted to pick cotton" so Tootie snaps at him to back off and explains that Blair is generally uppity and treats everyone like a minion. Fred says she probably talks much lower to her, then adds, "I hate to see a foxy chick fade before my eyes." Tootie explains that while she is a foxy chick, she's genuinely tight with Blair and her other white cast mates. She then wearies of Fred's relentlessly peevish attitude and says she doesn't want to talk to him anymore, so he instantly mellows out and coos, "Be cool. There's no harm in rapping." LOL. Tootie mulls over that chill statement and decides she likes him and thinks he's a very interesting person (even though he's a surly little douchebag).
Natalie is using a banana to practice calling Alan...but the faux call doesn't go well, and she ends up eating the banana. Tootie breezes in, and Natalie chides her for spending so much of her time by the candy machine lately - and Tootie denies that she and Fred are having a romance and says she's just attracted to his mind. She says that Fred makes her think about what it is...and Natalie scrunches her face in confusion and asks, "What is it?" Hee.. Jo enters the room and admonishes Tootie for missing the dance contest committee meeting, and Tootie's like, "Ack!" and says it slipped her mind and wonders how she should explain her absence to Mrs. Garrett. Blair just shrugs and says, "Any little white lie will do" - but hyper-sensitive Tootie takes offence and asks her what color the big lies are. Blair, who I don't think got the memo that this is a race-centric episode, just shrugs and goes, "Plaid?" Jo asks Tootie whassup with her prickly 'tude lately, and when Tootie just mutely sulks, Natalie jokes that she's probably been eating too many candy bars.
Mrs. Garrett informs Tootie that Carl's waiting for her downstairs, so Tootie heads down to tell him what it is. Carl (a dorky white kid) asks her when they're going to rehearse for the dance contest, and she tells him she can't be his partner anymore. He's all, "Wuh?" and reminds her that they won last year and were awarded with the grand prize of his & hers Frisbees. LOL. Fortunately, the prize is even better this year: two portable stereos with tape decks! Woo hoo! Tootie drops the bomb that she can't be his partner, then pretends it's 'cause he makes her nauseous when he throws her up in the air. He promises not to do that anymore (sorry, but I can't envision this undeveloped boy even lifting Tootie), then wails that she can't cop out on him now 'cause the contest is only two days away. Tootie firmly retorts, "I can, and that's it" then coldly turns her back on him. Carl just shakes his head sadly and mumbles, "Women...I'll never understand them." After he slinks off dejectedly, Mrs. Garrett asks Tootie why she's not partnering with Carl in the dance contest, and Tootie says that interracial dancing might lead to interracial marriage (LOL - I suppose it could...assuming that some interracial dating happened somewhere between the interracial dancing and interracial marriage). Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face and asks her if she's really saying that people of different races can't have anything to do with each other, and Tootie's like, "Well, d'yuh. That's what Fred says." Mrs. Garrett wryly says she once knew a gal named Tootie who could think for herself - and Tootie nonsensically insists that when you mix black and white, all you get is grey...and no good can come of that. She then yammers unintelligibly about how Eastland is giving a black girl a white education and white friends, then wails, "No one cares that I'm going to wake up one morning and not know who I am!" She bolts out of the room and runs upstairs, leaving Mrs. Garrett with her face scrunched in bewilderment.
Natalie excitedly tells Tootie that Alan said yes to entering the dance contest with her, and Tootie gets all excited - but then remembers Fred's edict against befriending white people, so she dials down her response and coolly retorts, "That's...nice." Natalie asks her if she's OK, and Tootie snaps, "Yeah, I'm OK! Why wouldn't I be OK?!" Jo tells her she's been acting really dickish lately, then asks her what's bugging her, and Tootie explains that she's been trying to figure out who she is, then declares, "I'm black." Jo's like, "No kidding" and Blair jokingly adds, "We thought you were Suzanne Somers!" Natalie asks her when race became such a big deal to her, and Tootie doesn't really answer and snappishly says they're all the same, while she's the one who's different...and doesn't want to forget it. Natalie quips, "Then write yourself a note" and Tootie shoots her the stink-eye. Mrs. Garrett enters the room with the dress Tootie made for Blair and gushes about what a wonderful job she did. Blair checks out the conservative looking garment, makes a blech face, and asks what the hell it is. Mrs. Garrett informs her that it's a galibaya, and Blair looks less than thrilled and unhappily remarks, "No spaghetti straps." She says it looks very African, and Tootie prickles up and snappishly asks, "Something wrong with that?" Mrs. Garrett cluelessly waxes on about how beautiful it is, while Blair pretends to not totally hate its shapelessness and matching head turban. Tootie decrees that she wants everyone who even looks at the dress to know that it was made by a black person, and Blair jokes that she can put that on the label, right next to dry clean only. Tootie asks her if she's ridiculing the dress, so Blair throws her a bone and calls it a knockout...and Tootie snarks at her to stop pretending and messing with her head. There's just no pleasing her in this episode. Mrs. Garrett tries to make peace by suggesting they all go downstairs for some ice cream...and Jo cheekily says she doesn't care if they have chocolate or vanilla. Tootie glares at her and says she has to decline, 'cause she invited her friends over and they're all meeting downstairs. After she huffily exits the room, Natalie looks sad and says she thought they were her friends.
Tootie has invited the three other black students attending Eastland to hang with her in the cafeteria. An athletic looking one who's decked out in a yellow track suit plops herself down, grabs the plate of goodies, and starts chowing down. Tootie explains that she summoned them all here to discuss the things that all black women share, and they just stare at her blankly and go, "What do we share?" LOL. Tootie says, "You know...like how we come from the same place" and one of the girls looks puzzled and goes, "Baltimore..?" and Tootie specifies, "Originally." The smartest of the three gets that she means Africa, but then another girl confuses matters when she tells Tootie she's from Jamaica. Jo, Blair, and Natalie enter the room on their way to get ice cream and chat amicably with Tootie's guests...and soon after that, the three black girls tell Tootie they have to run, then beat a hasty retreat before any kind of sisterhood can be formed.
Tootie looks bummed out when Mrs. Garrett enters the lounge area and asks her how it went. She shrugs and says not good, then remarks that she doesn't find any of the other black girls remotely interesting. Mrs. Garrett says that friendships can't just happen instantly, then reminds her she already has a lot of friends. Tootie wails, "But they're all white!" then says that Fred decreed that her friends should be the "same kind" she is...which is why she told Carl she couldn't be his dance partner. Mrs. Garrett reminds her how much everyone loves watching her and Carl dance - but Tootie insists she prefers to dance with Fred. Mrs. Garrett's all, "Whatever" then informs her that Jo, Blair, and Natalie are upset that she's been snubbing them so much lately. Tootie says she can no longer be close friends with them, and Mrs. Garrett solemnly points out, "But yet they are." Tootie says she's sooo confused, and Mrs. Garrett tells her that not everything is black and white...but then says she can't tell Tootie what to do, since "the black experience" isn't her experience and she'll have to sort out this faux identity crisis herself - hopefully before the end credits start rolling.
The dance contest is being held in the cafeteria, since I guess there's no set for the school gym. Mrs. Garrett gets things rolling by showing off her jitterbug moves, and a sour looking Fred bitchily rolls his eyes and snarks, "Man...what am I doing here?" Blair sweeps in wearing the red galibaya, and Fred sneers, "Look at her. What is she trying to prove?" Tootie ignores his snarky 'tude, and rushes over to Blair to tell her how awesome she looks...and Blair wanks her in return and yammers on and on about how much she loooves her galibaya.
As the dance contest gets underway, Tootie and Fred take center stage...and a few seconds in, it's pretty clear from the looks of Fred's awkward jigging that he has zero rhythm. Tootie's all, "Ack!" and stares at him in horror...and Jo sidles up next to her and wryly remarks, "Another myth shot to pieces." Heh. Carl makes a beeline over to Tootie to tell her it's not too late to change her mind about partnering with him for the contest...so then Fred storms over and gives him the what-for for moving in on his date. Carl assures him he already has a girlfriend and that he just wants to dance with Tootie. Fred snarkishly asks Tootie if she seriously wants to dance with "that white boy", and Tootie's like, "No - I want to dance with Carl." She explains that the two of them won the dance contest last year and could likely do it again, and Fred scoffs, "Sure you did. Look at your competition. They move white." Tootie chortles and says that that's the pot calling the kettle black, and Fred visibly prickles at the word black, so Tootie wearily tells him to lighten up already. She declares that she wants to pick her friends - whatever color they may be - without his snide commentary, and that she's going to dance with Carl...but will celebrate with him afterwards (God knows why). She and Carl then join hands...and as he earnestly tries to channel John Travolta à la Saturday Night Fever, it appears as though he's probably just as much of an embarrassment on the dance floor as Fred was.