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Learning the Facts of Life

posted by Jen on 10/02/01

It always amazes me how quickly my weekends seem to fly by. Friday night, I baked a pie, painted my room, and then met up with W-D's own Dave Macchia for a few hours. I learned a subtle, but important difference:

It's pronounced ‘Mack-ee-ah,' not ‘Motch-ee-ah'

Saturday and Sunday went by even faster. I had to buy groceries, 1 card, stamps, 7 different color paints, 1 pillow, 1 brita replacement filter, and a sweater cause I was feelin chilly. I couldn't help but think… if only all of those items were sold in one centralized location… then I could have made one 10-minute trip and have more time to parrrrr-tayyyy! And then it dawned on me…one such store did exist.

Over Our Heads was the only known boutique that carried books, Cocoa Butter, lace doilies, and blow-up swimming pools in one location. My favorite items were the rubberized omelets and cartons of milk pouring into a glass but not spilling! And the blush brushes with the little jimmies inside that made noise when you shook them! But, of course, the real treasure of Over Our Heads wasn't the toys. It was the brains that made it all happen. It was Tootie behind the counter. Natalie refilling the candy jar. Jo inflating the blow-up frog. Blair reassembling the chemistry sets. Willis "looking after" the merchandise.

Thank ye Mizz Garrett, Ize just takin these boxes off ya hands

Edna (and later Beverly) greeting the customers. And who could forget the silly carpenter or the redheaded errand boy? I know I can't, especially that redheaded errand boy. Mac, I LOOOOOVE you! Let's take a glance at some of my favorite characters:

(W-D Disclaimer: The Facts of Life is one of the greatest shows ever, don't be fooled by my jokes ahead - they're all fueled by jealousy! Just ask B, he's jealous of Creed.)

Name: Edna Garrett
Nickname: The incredible Ed-nibble
Catchphrase: TOOO TEEE! Get back heeeeere!!

Description: Held the role of "Mother Figure" of the house as opposed to the role of "Father Figure" which was held by George Michael. Always hid those long lustrous locks in an upswept bun. One day, we hoped she would unpin the bun and let loose a cascade of red curls. Yelled at the girls a lot but apparently was really skilled in the kitchen; the locals were still talking about Edna's Edibles even after the store burned down. Apparently cookies and pies weren't the only sweet thang Edna had goin on…

Last seen: Running off to South Africa with Wilford Brimley and leaving the girls with her sister Beverly. Because apartheid seemed just a little more palatable than slinging cookies and lying to Natalie that her parents didn't really abandon her.

Where she is now: Shacking up with Mr. Drummond, looking fabulous at 75!

Name: Beverly Ann Stickle
Nickname: The Beverly Hillbilly!
Catchphrase: I didn't hire George because he's a good carpenter. I hired George cause he has a nice ass!!1

Description: The half-sister of Edna, Beverly ran the store, raised the four girls, and adopted the redhead as her son. And yet Edna is still remembered as the role model, suggesting that running off and having wild sex with someone you don't know is a valid reason for abandoning "family."

Last seen: Hugging a pretty awkward-looking pair of pants (no, that's her leg, silly!1)

Where she is now: Playing Dot Richmond on "The Ellen Show," playing "doctor" with Ellen behind the scenes

That's it, blow your career goodbye, Kim Fields

Name: Dorothy Ramsey
Nickname: Tootie
Catchphrase: U-N-I-T-Y that's a unity!

Description: Tootie was definitely the show asshole. When everyone took their IQ tests, it was Tootie who blabbed everyone's scores all over the place. When Jo and Blair snuck out to meet boys, Tootie ratted on them to Mrs. Garrett. Tootie sneakily read Blair's journal behind her back. Tootie befriended Natalie then dogged her when cooler friends came along. I must say, I liked the show a lot. But Tootie was about as much fun as a flute up your ass.

Last seen: Dragging Natalie to the local nightclub to catch 80-year old "Jazzbeau" playing the sax.

Where she is now: On reruns of "Living Single" with Queen La, making guest appearances where only the best actors go, "Hollywood Squares"

Hallelujah! I got me some AAAAAYYCE!!!

Name: Natalie Green
Nickname: Big Pun
Catchphrase: I'm sweatin' just lookin at him!

Description: Much porkier and less attractive than her cast mates, Natalie established herself as the jolly one in the group. So jolly, in fact, that when she laughed her belly shook like a bowlful ‘o' jelly. One year her parents sent her a little package for Chanukah and she looked at the package sadly, realizing it was too small to be what she wanted. Then she opened the card and it said "Hope this sweater makes you merry-o, tomorrow we're sending you a STEREOOO!" (This is right from memory) Natalie started jumping around screaming, "Wouldja bounce wit me! Bounce wit me! Wit me Wit me Wit me! Bounce wit me!" Also, dated a guy named Snake. Was the first cast member to learn what a real "snake" looked like.

Last seen: Letting go of her heart and letting go of her head with Ryan Cassidy

AAAAAALLLLLLAALL you want is right here in this room.

Where she is now: Probably the most successful Facts of Life alumna, Mindy went on to do the voice of Cindy Yuponce on "The Chimp Channel." God, I love chimps.

Name: Jo Polniaczek
Nickname: The Polok
Catchphrase: I got beer. Don't ask me how. I just got beer.

Description: Established herself as the resident thug. Somehow knew how to hot wire cars, "get beer" and magically attract every guy in the neighborhood, including Blair's socialite friends. I'm thinking I've got to start getting beer to impress boys. And if it doesn't work, maybe I can just get them drunk enough…

Last seen: Hiding the emerald stone in Natalie's knapsack in the made-for-TV bonanza "The Facts of Life Go Down Under." The crooks couldn't find the stone! Then, when Natalie gave a speech in front of a crowd of Aussies, she unwittingly made a joke about a heavy stone in her bag. Then the crooks lunged forward and tried to steal her knapsack!!1 Sweet Lord, this is all straight from memory.

Where she is now: Going down under with Devon Sawa

Name: Blair Warner
Nickname: The Blair Witch Doctor
Catchphrase: I just had another one of my brilliant ideas!

Description: Blair was the snobby, self-centered one who was embarrassed of her cousin, Geri. Geri wore a shirt that said, "I'm not drunk, I have cerebral palsy." Eventually Blair would get over her shallowness and sing "Tea for two" with Geri at an all-day telethon.

Blair truly bordered on being beautiful until she got the foolish idea to get a mohawk.

Last seen: Applying that mohawk to slaughter the cast in the Ten Little Indians episode.

Where she is now: Following another one of her brilliant ideas right into obsolescence.

Name: George Burnett
Nickname: 100% Pure Beefcake
Catchphrase: Ay Oh, uh Alex. Where is uh Mal Lo Ree?

Description: The archetypal Mr. Fix-It who found a place in every girl's heart.

Last seen: In the opening credits, trying to hit the nail straight. He always misses. Every single time. You would think that if they want to establish him as a carpenter, they would change that opening scene to a shot where he hits it straight? Jeez.

Where he is now: Where ya been? Didn't you see "Full Tilt Boogie?"

Name: Andy Moffett
Nickname: The Mac Attack
Catchphrase: Come on guys! It's a chinchilla!!1

Description: The resident errand boy. Also, the silliest, palest-looking redhead known to mankind. Somehow fell in love with Tootie, and then Natalie. When Tootie and Natalie are your last chances for love, I think it's safe to say you're no longer a man.

Where he is now: Starring as Joe in a movie that pretty much sums up his career, The Zeros.

And there you have it. The truly stellar cast of individuals who ran the show at "Over Our Heads." As you can see, the creation of characters as diverse as Tootie, Blair and George was no accident. It was done with the intention of later creating a store as diverse as Over Our Heads, with each product symbolizing one of the character's idiosyncrasies, from the blush brushes illustrating Blair's vanity to the gummy bears illustrating Natalie's love of candy. While I would like to see an all-purpose store open up right around the corner from my house, I am content to spend a little more time to find just the right rubbery omelet. And then I eat it, OMG!!!1

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