An Unfortunate Episode: The Facts of Life “Starstruck”

Cut to Tootie and Mrs. Garrett wandering backstage after the concert. Tootie is carrying a giant, gift wrapped box (did she go full body on the sculpture?). A crowd of aggressive teenagers is harassing the man standing guard at Jermaine Jackson’s door. Tootie insists she should be let in as “fan club president” while all the other kids mock her. YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL, TOOTIE. One of the kids nabs the guard’s hat, he gets distracted, and Tootie shoves her way through the door.

On the other side, she spots her idol at his dressing table, wearing a sparkly blue jumpsuit (love). “Jermaine!” she screams. A brutish white dude guarding from the inside puts her in a chokehold as the other heavies grab her gift box. Ugh, I always remember that part creeping me out the most, but the specter of current events makes it even worse.

Jermaine tells Sal the brute to let her go. She says to her idol, “You know me! My letters come every day!!” Jermaine has no effing clue who she is, but kindly invites her to have a seat, anyway. “You were expecting me, weren’t you?” she says. Ugh, awkwardness.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Garrett pushes through the crowd in the hallway, telling one young man that she’s trying to get the guard’s attention. “Hey, whatever turns you on,” he says. Save that talk for the Pussycat Theater, lad! When Mrs. G finally reaches the guard, she asks him, “Have you by any chance seen a young black girl?” DERP! Apparently, ginger from the fan club was a rare white girl (and she’s busy helping at the FAY-yuh).

Back to Jermaine and Tootie, who are engaging in some incredibly stilted conversation. Tootie says, “I really enjoy your music.” Okay. Not exactly a conversation starter. Then she asks about his dog, the one on the album cover. Jermaine’s allergic to dogs. That shit is fake. Tootie sits silent for a moment, then says, “I really enjoy your music.” CRINGE. Note: this is a rare useful moment in Very Special Episode-dom. It’s best not to meet your idols, folks. They don’t want to be your new BFFs, You probably have nothing in common. Trust me, I used to work at a live events theater. I learned the hard way (and to the members of They Might Be Giants – please rest easy in the promise that I will never try to strike up a conversation again).

Jermaine’s entourage pull him away to deal with actual business. As Tootie sits uncomfortably on the sofa, she overhears the publicity guy calling JJ’s Number One Fan in Philly to offer her free tickets. Then creepy Sal emerges from the bathroom with the ripped and soaking gift box, which he watered down in case there was a bomb inside. Tootie quietly leaves the dressing room, finds Mrs. Garrett outside and tells her she just met Jermaine.

“Tootie, that’s WUHHHHHN-derful! Did you give him his present? What did he say?”

She sniffles and replies, “He said… he said thank you,” then weeps and collapses against Mrs. G’s shoulder. Hysteria solved (albeit bittersweetly), Tootie is now ready to behave sensibly, do her English homework, and craft scarves for next year’s FAY-yuh.

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    Tara Rose
    About Tara Rose 106 Articles
    Since 2009, Tara has been writing snarky essays about pop culture, motherhood and her various neuroses at Rare Oats. She spends most of her other time selling cheese, raising a small human and goofing off with her husband Dan. E-mail:
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