Recap: As the girls toil away in the kitchen, Jo says that when she's married, she's not ever doing dishes. Blair's like, "D'yuh" and jokes that she and her future husband will probably just eat with their fingers straight out of the bucket, so then Jo threatens her with "a finger lickin' good trip to the moon". Blair asks her if she's capable of carrying on a conversation without sounding like Sylvester Stallone, and Jo shoots back, "Better Sylvester Stallone than Miss Piggy." [For those of you keeping track, this is now the third episode of the season in which the writers have included in the script a fat joke that Jo lobs at Blair.] Natalie chimes in and says they fight so well, then jokes, "Have you ever thought about becoming Middle East countries?" (Ouch to the Middle East, still so troubled 35 years later.) Blair brushes off the Miss Piggy reference and breezily claims that Jo is just jealous of her, but Jo hotly denies that her resentment has anything to do with the fact that Blair comes from a wealthy family and [seemingly] has access to unlimited funds. Nope, no resentment there.
Tootie dashes down the stairs and announces that Mrs. Garrett's birthday is tomorrow...and says she found this out by eavesdropping on a phone call. Shocker. Natalie wonders why Mrs. Garrett hasn't mentioned it to them, and Blair says that a woman her age probably doesn't want to advertise another birthday. Natalie concurs and says it must be traumatic for a woman to reach middle age, and Blair says she plans on avoiding middle age altogether, since her cheekbones will keep her looking 25 forever. [Lisa Whelchel does look pretty damn good, three decades later, so I'll give her that.] Jo urges them to keep quiet about Mrs. Garrett's birthday so they don't risk upsetting her...but then, a few seconds later, Mrs. Garrett comes downstairs and announces that tomorrow she's baking a birthday cake for herself - not to eat, but so she can blow out the candles. The girls act fake surprised and shriek, "Congratulations!" They marvel at her willingness to celebrate her birthday...and Tootie blurts out in her usual insulting fashion, "'Cause you're a little over the hill." Mrs. Garrett says she doesn't feel 'over the hill' now that she's lost so much weight, then sings, "I feel alive!" She then heads out to the admin office, and Natalie says they should all chip in and buy her a birthday gift. Blair's like, "No offense, but I'll buy my own" - then says she'll permit them to attach their names to the gift if they wish. Jo gets offended and snarls that she has her own money...and then she, Natalie, and Tootie huddle together and discuss pooling their money together to buy Mrs. Garrett a gift from the three of them.
Between the three of them, they have about $15...and Jo says that surely they'll be able to buy something nice with that. Tootie says she recently saw Mrs. Garrett admiring a Hawaiian blouse and suggests getting her that, and the other two concur.
The three enter Harrison's boutique and start browsing through the many racks of clothes. Jo asks the snooty saleswoman where the blouses that are on sale are located, and she snoots that their blouse sale ended yesterday. Natalie is flummoxed that the sale would be over so quickly, since she just read about it in the paper late yesterday. Jo asks her if they have any Hawaiian shirts for $15 or less, and Snooty tells her they're all in the $30 range, then dismissively adds, "Wish I could help you" and stalks off. Jo glares after her and growls, "I'll bet you do." Natalie suggests they buy Mrs. Garrett some cheap cologne instead, but Jo refuses to go the cheap route 'cause she doesn't want Blair to rub their noses in the fact that she's rich and they're not. She insists on buying a blouse, and Tootie wails, "How?!" so Jo motions them over to one of the racks and picks out an unspeakably loud Hawaiian shirt. Natalie looks at the price tag and tells her it's $40, which is more than double what they have to spend, and Jo says, "Forget the money. It doesn't have to cost anything." She adds that the store did "a number" on them by advertising a one day sale (er...OK?) then grins devilishly and says, "Well, now it's our turn." Natalie looks appalled at the idea of shoplifting, so Jo snarkishly asks her if she wants Blair laughing at their poorness. She grabs the blouse and heads over to the fitting room...and when Tootie half-heartedly tries to stop her, Jo tells her to chillax and says that a big store like Harrison's isn't going to miss one blouse...and certainly not that fugly thing. She enters the fitting room, leaving Natalie and Tootie behind to twitch nervously.
A few seconds later, Jo exits the fitting room and puts her arms around Natalie and Tootie and instructs them to "walk outta here real easy". Tootie goes, "You did leave the blouse in the dressing room, didn't you?" and Jo shushes her and just tells her to keep moving. Suddenly, a uniformed security guard appears behind them and barks, "Stop!" and as they quake in their shoes for a few tense seconds, he informs them that there's construction being done to the sidewalk near this exit and advises them to use the other one. They thank him, and hastily leave the store with the stolen merchandise.
Blair's gift to Mrs. Garrett is a beautiful Gucci purse, and she oohs and awws and assures Blair that she loves her new status symbol. After that, Natalie, Tootie, and Blair enter her room with their gift. Mrs. Garrett opens the box, peers inside, then lifts up the fugly shirt and coos, "It's just beautiful!" Jo glares at Blair and snaps, "It wasn't cheap either!" and Natalie rolls her eyes and mutters, "It wasn't that much of a financial strain." Blair eyes the gift suspiciously and asks them why the shirt wasn't packed in one of Harrison's boxes, so Jo tells her that the Gift Wrapping Department was all backed up, so they just decided to use their own box. Mrs. Garrett says she's overwhelmed by all the gift giving, then puts on her grisly new blouse over the one she's already wearing and calls it dazzling. LOL. Blair makes a face and calls it blinding and tells Mrs. Garrett she can always exchange it for something that's actually wearable in public. Natalie says she can't do that 'cause they lost the receipt, and Jo and Tootie go overboard insisting that Mrs. Garrett looks fabulous in her new blouse. Natalie, Tootie, and Jo head downstairs, while Blair continues to stare disdainfully at the blouse. Mrs. Garrett remarks that it's definitely too big for her, and Blair urges her to go to Harrison's and exchange it for something that's much less hideous.
"Now go stand over there so I can covertly flag security."Mrs. Garrett brings the blouse to Harrison's and tells Snooty she'd like to exchange it for one in a smaller size. Snooty opens the box, clearly recognizes the blouse as stolen merchandise, and subtly motions the undercover security guard over to tell him whassup. The guard, a dumpy little dough-like man, shadows an oblivious Mrs. Garrett as she browses the racks and unwittingly gabbles to him about her shopping habits, saying things like, "When I see something I like, I just grab it!" She finally asks him why he's so interested in what she's doing, then saucily asks, "Are you trying to pick me up?" He replies, "You could say that" and informs her that he's the store's security guard. Mrs. Garrett, who still hasn't gotten a clue, starts flirting with him...and he brusquely announces that she's under arrest for shoplifting and takes her away.
Jo calls Blair a "no good, dirty creep" for encouraging Mrs. Garrett to exchange the blouse they bought her, and Natalie and Tootie concur and add that something awful could have happened to their beloved housemother on her way to Harrison's. Blair scrunches her face in confusion and asks them why they're so upset. Mrs. Garrett enters their bedroom, and Natalie looks over at her brightly and asks, "What's new?!" Blair tells her the girls have been giving her a hard time for suggesting she return the blouse, and Mrs. Garrett wryly says, "Well, I can't blame them for that." She then messes with the thieves' heads by telling them she went to Harrison's in order to exchange the blouse for one in a smaller size, but then decided to keep it and says, "How could I exchange something you spent your hard earned money on?" and sarcastically refers to them as "generous, good kids". Tootie and Natalie look pained and start to crack under the pressure, and Jo tries to shush them...but in vain, 'cause Natalie can't keep herself from blurting out that they stole the blouse. Blair scrunches her face in disbelief and goes, "You stole it?" then shrugs and says, "Well...at least you didn't pay good money for that." Bwahaha! True enough. Mrs. Garrett says she had a feeling something was very wrong when the dumpy security guard arrested her for shoplifting. She asks them whaddup with them shoplifting when they're already on probation for the cafeteria van theft? (Um, that was a contrived plot device, Edna.) Jo explains that they didn't want to look like poor urchins next to Blair and her luxurious gift giving...and Mrs. Garrett frowns disapprovingly and says she didn't want her birthday to degenerate into any kind of contest between them. She tells them she doesn't need expensive gifts, and would have happily accepted a flower, seashell, or a simple note. Jo's like, "But you do so much for us" and says they wanted to get her something nice as a way of saying thank you. Mrs. Garrett tells her that that's a lovely sentiment, but then sternly warns her never to steal anything again. Jo nods and then says, "I thought we were getting to be...not so far apart" and Mrs. Garrett gives her an affectionate grin and giddily retorts, "You mean, closer?" She informs the girls that she put a size small of the fugly blouse on layaway at Harrison's, and offered up Jo to work at the store every weekend until it's paid off. Natalie and Tootie ask her who's going to pick up the slack for Jo in the kitchen, and Mrs. Garrett stares at the two of them and reminds them that that they were accomplices to the shoplifting. She then abruptly changes the subject and tells the girls she scored a date with the store's dumpy security guard. LOL. That uggo?