At Calle OchoEXPAND
At Calle Ocho
Stephanie Rodriguez

I'm Sorry Wilmer Valderrama

First and foremost, I want to apologize to Wilmer Valderrama. I didn't make it to your Tide/Covergirl tent on Sunday during the Calle Ocho festival last weekend. You're a young handsome, talented, and successful man who deserves attention. P.S. I'm single, bilingual, and ready to mingle.

However, let's be clear about one thing and one thing only -- IT WASN'T MY FAULT.

I had no clue where your tent was in the madness of the out-of-towners, crazies, Pitbull connoisseurs, old Cuba enthusiasts, and thong-showing chongas. It was nearly impossible to walk the streets of Calle Ocho without noticing all the different ethnicities coming together for the biggest festival of the year in Miami.

I know that seeing you in person, after all these years of watching That 70s Show re-runs, was unlikely. Why? Because "Who the hell knows where the corner of Beacon Avenue and Eighth Street is?" -- which is where you were supposed to be. "Que? Que?" I kept hearing everyone say each time I approached someone for directions.

Don't be mad, Papo. I wanted to meet you. I really did. But, I was a bit distracted by the salsa on the streets, the $2 beers, and the $3 pan-con-lechon sandwiches. Did I mention I found arepas for $4? What a steal! Too bad I didn't settle for those and got $5 ones later. The number one lesson I learned is, don't settle for a $10 pan-con-lechon when the vendor next door is selling it for a quarter of the price -- that's Miami for you, baby!

You know what else Miami is? Coming across people with tattoos that read "Established in 1991." After all, everyone needs a little reminder about the year that they decided to declare themselves to the world. You know what I also enjoyed watching? The random infomercials like "Miracle Kitchen Plus" demonstration. As if the beer, food, and concert stages weren't enough, I could buy a food processor too!!

I'm so sorry Wilmer. I also had to come to the rescue for a couple from Germany, Andrea and Thomas Horn, when they told me that they were looking for vegan food. Pobrecitos. I had to tell them that they weren't in Kansas anymore (or should I say Germany!).

Speaking of tourists, the family from Detroit I bumped into seemed to have no problem getting around. The middle-aged matriarch of the group yelled "We're from Detroit -- that's right!" with the same je ne sais quoi that the Miami ghetto endures.

I'm sure glad I bumped into Channel 10's anchors Laurie Jennings and Calvin Hughes to keep myself grounded. I couldn't help but notice how good Calvin broke it down to Latin hip-swaying music. It was also incredibly adorable how Laurie kept trying to keep up with him.

After our photo op, I continued to try to make it out to you to see if maybe I'd at least get a 2-minute interview and photo-op with you, Wilmer, but nothing seemed to work.

After miles and miles of walking, my legs couldn't take the exhaustion anymore.I started to accept that I might never find Beacon Avenue. So, before I left the party of the year, I decided to move my ass one last time to some heavy Dominican merengue by 74-year-old Johnny Ventura. He's 74-years-old. But, the man looks and acts like he's in his 40s. True story.

So anyway I left Calle Ocho after scratching my Ventura performance itch and left around 6:30 p.m. Then suddenly, I saw a sign a great big sign that read "Beacon Avenue," and I shouted Fred Flintstone's famous line, but with a twist, "Wilmer!!!!!!!!!"

-- Stephanie Rodriguez

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