If your memory serves you well, you'll recognize Miriam Gonzalez. The 23-year-old Puerto Rican knockout lit up the Playmate 2000 search in our December 1999 issue and was one of the Latin ladies featured last July. "I was supposed to get married this month, but then I became a Playmate," says the all-natural beauty. "My fiancé, Mike, has a March birthday, so this is a nice treat for him." We'd like to thank the generous guy for sharing Miriam with us. "He decided to write a letter, sign my name and send my bikini pictures to Playboy," she says. "It was really hard for me to show off my body. If Mike hadn't sent the pictures, this wouldn't have been possible." Miriam was born in New York City and moved to Florida when she was 11, after her parents were divorced. "I guess you could say my dad is in his late 40s going on 22," she explains. "I really don't speak with him that much. But my mom is my number one supporter and best friend. After going through more things than I could ever handle, she said to me, 'Opportunity does not knock at your door. You have to get off your ass and knock at opportunity's door.'" Although she enjoyed cheerleading in high school, Miriam focused on theater, chorus and performing. "My favorite role was in a play called Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? I played this fat girl named Becky -- kids made fun of her -- who blossoms into a beautiful young woman. She learns that looks are unimportant and to concentrate on things like education and family. Becky kind of reminded me of me." When not doing theater work or studying communications at college, Miriam enjoys wave running and learning how to spice up new dishes. "My favorite thing to cook is Chinese," she says. "I watch the chefs stir-fry when I eat out and I bought a couple of cookbooks, so I'm getting pretty good at it." Miriam met her fiancé of five years at another eatery. "I was a hostess and he was a waiter at Red Lobster," she says. "One morning we caught each other's eyes. Mike asked me out seven or eight times before I said yes, because I had just gotten over a relationship and didn't need any more heartache. He said, 'How much can it hurt to go out with me one night? I promise we'll have the best time.' I said to myself, I can go out with this guy, and if he screws me over I can find out where he lives and kill him, or I can spend another night watching Disney movies with my mom. Needless to say, he eventually got a yes and we went out and had a great time. We clicked from day one." Now Miss March has rescheduled her wedding and is focusing on her future. "My direction is communications," she says. "I want to learn how to deal with people and to speak better. I'm kind of shy and reserved -- stick me in a room with someone and you won't get much conversation out of me. It's easier for me to perform for a crowd, which is why I majored in musical theater -- lived and breathed it -- during my first two years in college. What do I want to be when I grow up? I don't really know. My mom says it doesn't matter what you do in life as long as you just love what you do. Then the money will come. There are so many different things out there, I just don't want to miss any opportunities."
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