Episode 25

Freddy and Aura María walk up the church’s red carpet (hastily unrolled by Freddy) as Freddy vaguely hums the Wedding March under his breath, greets his aunt and uncle, and thinks to himself with a little bit of panic that this really is goodbye to his life as a bachelor. The priest starts the ceremony, but interrupts it to complain about Freddy’s “gringo” name (Freddy Estewart Contreras) when he has trouble saying it. He says he always told Freddy’s father that he should’ve named him Arcadio instead. He has to stop again to ask Aura María’s name, but is pleased to approve of it, saying it’s a good “Christian” name.

Back at Ecomoda, Jenny and Gutiérrez return from their “lunch.” Gutiérrez tells Sandra that he guesses that Aura María isn’t going to turn up there now that her post has a new “owner” [Beth the Logic Patrol: again, let me remark that i find it positively incredible that Gutiérrez seems to think he can just hire and fire people at will, without reference to their bosses. while i can see that this might be ok for the very very menial positions - might, mind you, not is!- i can see at least two problems with just replacing someone like Aura María. first, she’s secretary to the president of the company, i.e., Gutiérrez’s boss. there is simply NO WAY that decision is going to be up to Gutiérrez unless the president has spoken to him and told him to go ahead and do that, and so far as we’ve seen, Betty hasn’t done any such thing. the other problem is that Aura María isn’t only Betty’s secretary, she’s Betty’s friend. anyone who has the least thought to keeping his or her job would think twice about firing the friend of the president without having an absolutely unshakable reason. granted, Aura María and Freddy are certainly pushing things, but if one of the company rules is that being absent without calling in is cause for instant dismissal, you can be sure that Aura María and Freddy -both longtime employees- certainly know that and would’ve called in with some sort of excuse no matter how distracted they might be. therefore, we can conclude that an unexplained absence is not cause for instant dismissal and Gutiérrez is once again severely overstepping his job boundaries, not to mention handing Betty just the excuse she would need to get rid of him. therefore: AARGH!!!]. Gutiérrez also comments that he’s hungry… [Beth: excuse me, i have this sudden urge to go wash my hands…] Gabriela and Kenneth are heading for the elevator as he relates how he did everything he should’ve so that Aura María would agree to be his girlfriend, but she never gave him a final answer, and how it was impossible with Freddy hanging around all night [Beth: and we can all hear that Kenneth really does have a cold - his voice is all hoarse and scratchy]. And the worst is that Aura María stayed there with Freddy… They ask Sandra about Aura María and Freddy and she replies that neither of the two has arrived yet. Gabriela tells Kenneth not to lose hope… He tells her he has a “cold in his heart.”

Back again in Madrid, Colombia, the priest asks for the rings. Aura María and Freddy exchange them [Beth: they look like something you’d get in a bubble-gum machine - big and gaudy], swearing love and fidelity. The priest declares them husband and wife until death do them part, they happily kiss and, both very content, head for the entrance of the church where Freddy throws rice on them and they head over to his aunt and uncle’s house [next to the cemetery!!] to celebrate…

At Ecomoda, Armando is asking the Cartel what the latest scandal is… Sofía tells him that Gutiérrez took it upon himself to fire Aura María and Freddy. And she adds that he has put Jenny in Aura María’s place without consulting Betty! At this moment Freddy and Aura María arrive, both more than a little inebriated, and say, as they show off their ring fingers, WE GOT MARRIED!! Armando smiles but quickly puts on his “serious” face and tells them he needs to speak with them alone. He asks Sandra to ask Betty to join them in the conference room. The women of the Cartel are all delighted about their friends’ wedding [Merci & Beth: but we the viewers even more so because AT LAST the torture is over with!]. Before entering the conference room, Aura María rather clumsily throws her bouquet [Beth: which is still in the plastic from the shop!] and the women, even including the shameless and disgraceful Jenny, lunge and scrabble for it. But who ends up with it? Inesita! Poor Kenneth is so heartbroken at the news he forgets the little Spanish he knows and in English tells Gabriela how he can’t believe how, after coming to Colombia and finding the woman of his dreams, she goes and marries someone else. Gabriela pats him on the back, telling him it’s probably just as well, this way Kenneth can marry a “gringa.” As the pair head for Gabriela’s office, Kenneth moans that his mother told him not to come to Colombia, and now look what happens… [Beth: and why is it we are only just now hearing about this mother and her prediction??? it would have made a much more interesting story if we’d heard about it at the beginning and then Kenneth had prevailed after all. …]

Betty enters the conference room and somewhat tartly asks the “crickets” what’s wrong with them. Armando is leaning against the wall and merely smiles. Aura María and Freddy tell her they got married. Betty looks at them in surprise and asks if Aura María is pregnant. Freddy says maybe, because the night before he’d “made an effort.” Betty complains that they didn’t tell her, otherwise she would’ve planned something. Freddy, who as usual is getting all emotional, sobs that they (he and Aura María) wanted Armando and Betty to be their “godparents” but their wedding was simple, just his “little queen” and himself. Armando tells Betty that he’s already berated them, but that now what they have to do is plan a belated wedding show, a reception, a party. Freddy is very grateful, especially since “from an apartment to a blender, we don’t have anything.” Aura María is worried that Gutiérrez is going to fire them [Merci: ha, ha, ha - i don’t think they have to worry about that…]. Freddy babbles about how he’s going to be a father to Jimmy now. Then he asks Aura María for one of her hands in order to ask for Armando and Betty’s blessing. Betty congratulates Freddy, Armando congratulates Aura María (and tells her to have a lot of patience!)… Armando and Freddy don’t know whether or not to hug but finally do and Freddy kisses Armando on the check, which makes Armando shout, “Without kissing, swine!”

Freddy has a bottle of what looks like aguardiente and offers a toast - but not drinking out of the bottle since he has some little plastic shot glasses for the occasion. Betty doesn’t want to drink, but they finally talk her into it. Freddy, in his overly emotional state, throws his “glass” into Betty’s face.

Outside, the rest of the Cartel is discussing their friends’ marriage. Some think that they’re crazy. Inesita says no, it’s thanks to God that they finally got married. Gabriela comes out of her office and asks about Armando and Betty. They tell her they’re in the conference room. Just then Armando comes out of the conference room with Aura María and Freddy. Aura María asks Armando if he can give them a few days vacation to have a mini-honeymoon. Armando tells them of course.


Gabriela has just heard from Fashion Group’s home office. The president of the company, one Mark Stevenson, will arrive the next day in Bogotá from Buenos Aires, and he wants to see the Ecomoda offices and factory - the continuation of the whole deal between the two companies depends upon his approval. Armando goes into hyperdrive and tells Freddy to clean up, paint, tidy up everything - the honeymoon is canceled until after Mr Stevenson’s visit. Gabriela says, Much happiness! but everyone get to work.

The next morning, all the executives except Betty are gathered in the conference room. Gabriela is really nervous because she wants everything to be perfect, saying that Mr Stevenson is very “picky” [she and others use the word in English], very by-the-book. Like Kenneth, Mr Stevenson was also a Marine… Armando is trying to be image of peaceful tranquility and calm [poor guy!], saying that everything is fine and asking Gabriela to go over the schedule with everyone. Armando explains that Betty has prepared an excellent presentation… Gabriela’s cel rings and it’s Kenneth to tell her they’re on their way to Ecomoda. Armando heads for Betty’s office to let her know.

In her office, Betty is speaking on the phone with Doña Julia and it appears from what we hear of the conversation that Camilita has a fever. Armando overhears as Betty is telling Doña Julia she’s on her way home right now, and asks what’s wrong. Betty explains and he wants to go with her, but Betty tells him not to worry, to take care of their guest, and she’s loaning him her office!

As Armando gathers all the executive-floor employees together, we can already see that handling this on his own without Betty has him a little bit nervous. He sternly gives them last-minute reminders, one by one:

Freddy - NO stupid antics of any kind.

Aura María - NO uproars. And while we’re at it, what’s with the ultra-short mini-skirt? Do you think you’re in a dance club or what?

Sandra - Is it possible we can get through the day without any arguments…??

Sofía - What’s wrong with your hair? Do you have a wig on?? [Merci: well, yes - and Sofía hastily adjusts it.]

Bertha - Is it possible that just for today you could restrain yourself and not be constantly snacking?

Gutiérrez - NO Spanglish! and don’t even look at Mr Stevenson…

Armando calls for Inesita, who appears with Jenny in tow, the latter all scatterbrained and wearing a micro-mini-skirt. Armando asks “Jennifer Lopez” if she maybe has something with a shorter skirt… She, without a single neuron to aid her in understanding sarcasm when she hears it, tells him she does and she’ll put it on right away. Armando gives up and asks Inesita where Hugo is. She replies that he’s suffering from “sentimental nerves” and has canceled all his plans for the day. Armando is infuriated!! And, at the top of his voice, he starts in on a catalogue of Hugo’s faults. He is ranting so much that he doesn’t pay attention when people try to shush him, nor -just as always happens to Sofía when she’s in the middle of an embarrassing or incriminating piece of gossip- does he notice that the elevator doors have opened behind him to reveal the head of Fashion Group, Mr Mark Stevenson. Thankfully he finally manages to get the message before he makes too much of a fool of himself. Mr Stevenson greets him and asks about Betty. Armando regretfully explains that something unavoidable came up that she had to deal with…

Then Armando briefly introduces the employees assembled there, but as Gabriela leads him off towards Hugo’s workshop, Armando and the others behind the pair realize that Mr Stevenson’s otherwise impeccable jacket has a huge paint stain all over the back! Armando frantically wants to know where it came from - why, from Ecomoda’s own elevator, recently painted on Armando’s orders by one Freddy Estewart Contreras. Armando shouts for “Freddy Krueger” and berates the messenger [Merci: Poor Freddy - all he did was follow instructions!]… Armando tells Inesita to tell Hugo to be ready for the fashion show….

Gabriela leads Mr Stevenson to the showroom, from whence they can go to production while everyone tries to figure out how to separate Mr Stevenson from his jacket so it can be cleaned without his finding out about the paint. In a little while, they return to the conference room, where everything is very nicely set up and the table all arranged for lunch [Beth: with a cloth tablecloth and nice place settings and everything…]. Mr Stevenson asks what they are going to eat and Aura María says it is “vegetarian food.” Armando clarifies that what she means is there won’t be any seafood as they understand that Mr Stevenson is allergic to it. The executives seat themselves [Beth: Armando is at one end of the table and Mr Stevenson at the other end, with Gabriela, Kenneth, and Mario on one side and Gutiérrez and Nicolás seated across from them on the other side], and Armando asks Mr Stevenson what he thought of the production floor… Mr Stevenson [whose Spanish is ok, but not even so good as Kenneth’s] replies that he thought it was good, they have a lot of machines, but he wants to see the designs. They all start eating and Armando soon notices what seems to be a red spot on Mr Stevenson’s forehead.

Pretending he wants to consult with her about the wine they are drinking, Armando scoots his chair over to Gabriela (who’s sitting to his left) and asks her if he’s hallucinating, or does the guest really have a red spot on his forehead. She says no, he’s mistaken: It’s TWO red spots! Armando and Gabriela come to the conclusion that something he is eating must be causing them [Beth: altho the guy hinself seems to be supremely unaware there is anything wrong…]. Armando starts to panic that this is all getting out of hand! He excuses himself, saying there’s a problem at home and he must make a quick phone call. As he leaves, he notices that more red spots are appearing on Mr Stevenson’s face almost by the second. Now Gutiérrez, sitting next to Mr Stevenson, has taken out a small mirror and is carefully examining his own face for red spots as everyone else tries -not to convincingly, had anyone been paying attention- to act like they haven’t noticed anything, and Mr Stevenson unknowingly continues with his meal.

Out in the executive floor reception area, Armando calls a doctor friend and explains what is happening. Just then two of the waiters come out and Armando asks them to tell him what’s in the entrée. They don’t know and say he’d have to ask the chef, who’s at the restaurant. As they’re carrying a plate with the extra entrée (Betty’s), Armando tells them to give it to Bertha - Ecomoda’s official taster - and tells Bertha to give him a detailed analysis of the ingredients. Bertha is in heaven! She picks up the utensils to get down to business, but first asks the waiter to give her a glass of juice - no, some water - no, better a cup of red wine. Armando impatiently tells her to start eating! She savors the first bite and starts to enumerate the various ingredients, which Armando repeats to his doctor friend. Several glorious bites later, Bertha’s discriminating palate discerns a well-disguised hint of pineapple which the doctor feels is the likely cause of Mr Stevenson’s allergic reaction. As Bertha finishes up the entrée, the doctor tells Armando to give Mr Stevenson some antihistamines with a lot of water and Armando sends Sofía to look for these in the First Aid kit. After telling the waiter to bring water for everyone but to be certain to give the glass with the medicine mixed into it to Mr Stevenson, Armando returns to the conference room where he is as shocked as the rest to see Mr Stevenson’s face is now covered in spots, and he is complaining of feeling too warm [Merci: altho he still hasn’t taken off his jacket!]. Eager to disguise the likely cause of the sudden warmth, everyone else immediately starts to fan him- or herself and agree that yes, it is quite warm - Bogotá suffers from tropical heat [!!!]. The waiters bring the water with the medicine and as Mr Stevenson drinks it all down they offer him more food, which he declines, saying he couldn’t eat any more. Armando’s cel phone rings - it’s his doctor friend asking how his treatment is working. Armando recounts how Mr Stevenson had been feeling hot and is told that the medicine will probably make Mr Stevenson sleepy! Armando says goodbye to his friend, sending greetings to everyone (as if it were a social call).

Mr Stevenson starts to yawn and they all agree he must be suffering from jet lag after so much traveling. They solicitously suggest he might like to take a quick nap, and Armando offers the sofa in Betty’s office [saying he knows from experience that it’s quite comfortable!]. They lead him into Betty’s office where they finally manage to get him to take off his precious jacket. Armando runs off looking for Freddy, who is standing like a penitent against a wall, and tells him to take care of seeing they get the paint stain out ASAP!! Armando tells Inesita that Mr Stevenson is going to nap for a short while and that in 10 minutes or so she should have everything ready for the fashion show. Inesita repeats that Don Hugo doesn’t want to do ANYthing, because he’s [and here she imitates Hugo’s manner of speaking] “emotionally blocked…”

Hugo is in his workshop, sitting on a couch trying to look faint, with a brown paper bag in his hand so he doesn’t hyperventilate, and surrounded by models and [his dog] Bárbara Chesai… The models are all anxiously trying to convince him to snap out of his lethargy, to get the fashion show together for the guest, and saying he can’t do this either to the company or to Armando - who is (according to them) “divine.” Hugo cannot believe what they’re saying, and he doesn’t want them talking about the masculine side of the population. But they flatter him so much and so successfully that Huguito gradually feels the will to live returning to him… He says he’s going to reconcile with life, he’s going to be “another” Hugo - ok, not so different, maybe, but certainly better… He’s going to forgive Armando Mendoza for everything he’s done to him, that neither his Ecomoda nor Armando deserve for him to leave them in the lurch. As he’s saying this, Armando arrives and, not knowing about the “new” Hugo, promptly grabs Hugo by the neck as if he is going to strangle him. Poor Huguito faints…

Outside of Betty’s office, everyone is worrying that if the medicine doesn’t work and get the spots off of Mr Stevenson’s face, they’re going to have to take him to a clinic. As they’re discussing this, the man himself emerges from Betty’s office, quite refreshed, spot-free, and asking for his jacket. Freddy arrives with the jacket, freshly ironed and hanging on a hanger. He hurries to explain that they took it somewhere else so it wouldn’t get wrinkled. Mr Stevenson puts the [now stain-free] jacket on, with some help from Kenneth, and complains that they’re twenty minutes behind schedule and he wants to see the collection.

Hugo comes to and immediately asks why the “bald beast” [Armando!] is there. Armando snaps, Get to work, man! Hugo asks the models if they saw how Armando treated him… Kenneth enters and tells Armando that they’re all waiting for the showcase. Armando asks Kenneth to try to convince Hugo -the gypsy, the superstar- to cooperate [Beth: Hugo, as usual when we see him these days, is again wearing a long scarf tied gypsy-style on his head to hide the hair he had to let grow out for his lead role in El Inútil, another novela currently airing here in the US]. Kenneth says to Hugo, half in English and half in Spanish, “Hugo, please, I need you to do this.” Hugo asks him, “And you, why are you so divine?” And he asks him if someone has made a little doll of Kenneth so he (Hugo) could always carry it around in his pocket! He finally says he feels an urge to work and sends the girls off to get dressed… He tells Kenneth that it’s all look and no touch and starts to shoo Kenneth out with his catchphrase, “se fue, flew, flew, voló” [you left, you flew away]. Moreover, the models are jumpy when they’re naked [Merci: which Kenneth clearly doubts]. And he says good-bye with a “Kenneth, bzzzzzzt!” as he heads off to dress the models.

Everyone is in the showroom watching the models parade up and down the catwalk. Everyone applauds except Mr Stevenson, which worries Armando and the rest of them. When Mr Stevenson finally starts to applaud [at the end of the little show], everyone else hurries to join in. Hugo joins the models on stage and everyone applauds somemore. Hugo makes a few remarks, explaining the “earth tones” used in the collection, how it is a “forward” collection, looking toward the future, but that among the colors is of course, white - purity… Jenny, who has been jealously hovering around trying to insinuate herself, parades up and down the catwalk in her micro-mini and then tries to join the group of models posing around Hugo as he speaks [Hugo & the models ignore her]. Mr Stevenson says he’s delighted with everything and that the agreement between the two companies will definitely continue. He stands as if to leave, and everyone else who is seated hurriedly stands as well. Then he sits down again, and everyone quickly reseats him- or herself. Mr Stevenson comments on how well everything turned out and how he’s rather surprised because often during this sort of trip all sorts of strange things happen. He makes his farewells and, before leaving, Freddy [Beth: who i think missed out on the introductions when Mr Stevenson arrived…] greets him and introduces himself as the “mailing engineer” [he says “mailing engineer” in English].

Everyone celebrates the success of the visit and starts to shout “Hugo! Hugo! Hugo!” Our Hugo asks them not to deafen him, and says he never had so many men at his feet. And he realizes his big dream - a hug from Kenneth, during which Hugo manages to plant a kiss on him!

Merci: Next week will be the GRAND FINALE of EcoModa here in the United States. As is Univisión’s bad habit, they didn’t show any teasers that were worth anything so we’ll have to wait and see what happens on June 2nd…