Recap: Blair sweeps into the cafeteria while Jo is waxing the floor and asks if Geri is here yet - no, but ugh - and adds that they're supposed to meet for lunch. A few seconds later, Natalie and Tootie burst in...and Natalie is snarkishly accusing her of sabotaging her play. When Mrs. Garrett asks whassup, Natalie explains that she wrote a scene for drama class, which Tootie totally botched and caused the audience to laugh in all the wrong places. When Tootie angrily stomps across the room, Jo barks at her for stepping on the floor that she just waxed. Tootie just stares at her blankly, so a perplexed Jo asks if her if she heard what she just said...and Tootie nervously chuckles and makes a joke about how she wanted to leave her footprints in the wax for posterity.
Geri - ugh - enters the cafeteria and announces that she's just been hired to do her comedy schtick at the new Howard Johnson's. Yeesh. They must really be hard up for entertainment. Natalie asks Geri if she would please help critique the scene that Tootie flubbed earlier...and then she and Tootie take their positions and get ready to re-act it. After Natalie delivers the opening line, Tootie just stares blankly into space, and an impatient Natalie throws up her hands and goes, "See? She doesn't pick up her cues!" Geri scrunches her face concernedly at Tootie, who's maneuvering herself so that she's standing to the right of Natalie. When she bitches at Natalie for overacting and being impossible to work with, Mrs. Garrett asks her why she's getting so upset about something that's supposed to be fun...and Tootie screeches, "I'm not going to waste my time on this junk anymore!" and storms upstairs.
Tootie flees to her bedroom with Natalie at her heels. She asks Tootie whassup with her shitty attitude, which is more obnoxious than usual. Tootie snaps about how sucky her script writing is, then accuses her of being too sensitive of criticism. Natalie reminds her that she was the one who bombed on stage with her shittastic acting, and an irked Tootie turns the radio on and blasts the volume, and insists again that her script sucked...and then two start bickering like an old married couple.
Geri enters the room, turns the music off, and breaks up their argument. She tells Tootie she's been noticing something strange about the way she's been acting, then comes right out and asks her if she's having trouble with her hearing. Tootie snaps, "Of course not!" so Geri explains that part of her disability includes hearing problems, and she does the same kind of stuff she's noticed her (Tootie) doing: move around to hear better, lean in close, get pissy at people when she can't hear what they're saying. Tootie admits that, yeah OK, she's been having trouble with her hearing lately...but for some nonsensical reason is refusing to see a doctor. Geri warns her not to mess around with her ear health and strongly urges her to make an appointment asap...and Tootie promises to take care of it this afternoon. Geri nods approvingly, asks her to keep her in the loop, then exits the room. A worried looking Natalie tells her they should head over to the infirmary right now and asks Tootie how long she's had symptoms. Tootie says it's been about two weeks, and Natalie's all, "Wha-a?", reminds her that she's a doctor's daughter and therefore knows how serious this type of thing can be, and says she needs to sort out whatever's wrong with her ear immediately. Tootie breezily says that something probably got caught inside her ear and figured she'd just let nature take its course and wait for it to self-correct. What a dumb moron. She orders Natalie not to tell anyone about this, which is so idiotic - go to the damn doctor! - and Natalie promises to keep her secret, which is equally as idiotic. Most idiotic, however, was the writers' decision to structure an entire episode around Tootie's minor ear ailment.
Tootie is wearing headphones and bopping to the beat as she sets the tables in the cafeteria for lunch. Mrs. Garrett asks her to clean up the lounge when she's done...but, of course, Tootie can't hear her [or see her, apparently] and continues to boogie. Mrs. Garrett stands in front of her and waves her arms to get her attention, and when Tootie takes off her headphones she asks her to explain why she's been acting so squirrelly lately. Further to that, she's been hearing from her English and French teachers that she hasn't been performing well in class lately - to which Tootie shrugs and breezily retorts, "It's just a phase." Jo asks Tootie if she wants to clear the tables tonight, and Tootie mishears her and replies, "No, it's raining" and Natalie's like, "Ack!", then keeps alive the illusion that everything's A-OK by joking about how Tootie never likes to clear the tables when it rains. Blair asks Tootie if she needs help with French...and when Tootie doesn't answer 'cause she didn't hear the question, a bemused Blair repeats, "Are you having trouble?" Tootie stares back at her in horror, worried that Blair just discovered her secret - but then Natalie swoops over and quips that Tootie is doing so well in French that she barely understands English anymore...and then she and Tootie both squeeze out a forced laugh. Blair's like, "OK, whatever" and continues to go about her business 'cause I doubt she could give much of a rat's ass about whatever dumb thing is going on with these two.
Geri tells the Facts gals that her unfunny comedy schtick at the Howard Johnson's didn't cut it, evidenced by the zero laughter she got from the audience. Shocker. She then stares expectantly at Tootie, who suddenly announces that she has to go to the library right now and rushes out. Geri asks Natalie if Tootie got her ear checked out by a doctor yet, and Natalie says no, but that she's feeling a lot better.
Tootie bursts back into the cafeteria shrieking in pain. Apparently, Roy (the curly-haired dork who likes to hit on Jo) struck her with his bicycle. [That shouldn't have made me laugh out loud, but it did.] A distraught Roy anxiously tells everyone that he saw Tootie ambling along the street and rang his bell to alert her - and when she didn't stop, he plowed right into her. An alarmed Natalie loudly declares, "She didn't hear him coming" then marches over to Mrs. Garrett to spill the beans about Tootie's ear situation, despite Tootie's anxious protests. Mrs. Garrett glares at Tootie and asks, "Is this true?" and Tootie sheepishly admits that lately her ears have been "clogged". Natalie tattles on Tootie for making her promise not to tell anyone...and then Geri piles on and says that Tootie promised to go see a doctor but never did. Mrs. Garrett's like, "Enough of this fuckery" and announces that she's calling the doctor right now, and bustles toward the phone. Tootie glares hatefully at Natalie, calls her a traitor, and vows to never forgive her for ratting out her ear problem.
Geri follows Tootie upstairs and asks her why she refused to go to the doctor, and Tootie says she's afraid that the doctor will tell her she's going deaf and make her wear a hearing aid. She then scrunches her face in misery and wails, "Everything is supposed to be perfect! I don't want to be handicapped!" and Geri stares at her, stupefied that she'd actually say such a dickish thing to someone with cerebral palsy, and despondently hangs her head. Tootie, who suddenly realizes she just put her foot in her mouth, apologizes, then begs Geri not to hate her for her insensitivity...which she's clearly not all that sorry for, 'cause in the next breath she insists that she couldn't stand to be handicapped. She cries, "It's not fairrrrrrrr!" and Geri tells the nitwit that life may not be perfect - and when bad things happen, it's what you do about them that counts. Mrs. Garrett pokes her head into the room and says that the doctor is available now, and Tootie agrees to keep the appointment...then sheepishly asks Geri to come with her.
Natalie worries that Tootie will continue to hold a grudge against her forever - but Jo just rolls her eyes and assures her she'll get over it. A few seconds later, Tootie returns with Mrs. Garrett and Geri and happily announces that she's going to be OK. Phew! She explains that some fluid got trapped in her ear, which subsequently got infected...and so the doctor just drained it. Jo acts overly fascinated with the details of the procedure and asks to hear more, while Blair makes a face and calls it disgusting. Tootie then ambles over to where Natalie is standing and sheepishly tells her that if she had waited much longer to see a doctor, she might have had permanent hearing damage. Tootie traces her ear problem to the time she went outside with a wet head and then got a cold. Natalie smugly retorts, "I told you so!" and starts railing to the gals about how important it is for them to listen to her whenever she warns them against going into the cold without a warm hat on.