Damn those American Idol writers! If it weren't for that diva-esque banter they encouraged Vanessa Olivarez to recite last week — in which she slammed pretty-boy host Ryan Seacrest — the 21-year-old Atlantan might still be in the running for the title. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. Fortunately, the pretty-sassy-in-pink hair colorist hasn't sprouted a Julia DeMato-sized chip on her shoulder in the wake of her shocking defeat. "I think it can be a positive thing," she tells TV Guide Online of her ouster. "I'm turning it around. I always try and look at the positive in everything." Spoken like a girl who just had dinner with rocker Melissa Etheridge. For more on that, as well as Olivarez's take on who should succeed Kelly Clarkson as Idol champ, dig in...

TV Guide Online: Do you think the scripted crack hurt you?
Vanessa Olivarez:
I think it could have... but I'll never know [for sure], because it's not like I can count the votes and go, "Who didn't vote for me because of my performance?" or "Who didn't vote for me because of the comments I made?" I think that very well could have hurt me. But you know, you live and learn. It sounded funny in rehearsals, but it just didn't come across that way in the show. I do think that maybe some of the younger kids didn't take the comment all in good fun. And I think that's a lot of the audience.

TVGO: Did anyone from the show apologize to you?
Olivarez:
I had a couple of people say, "You know, I'm really sorry about that." They did try to fix it, but I think by that point, it was just too late.

TVGO: Were you shocked when you were voted out?
Olivarez:
I actually was pretty shocked; I think that a lot of people were. I didn't have any family there, which was really hard on me. Because they didn't expect me to be voted off this soon, I was all by myself.

TVGO: That's awful. Did they fly out?
Olivarez:
No, they live in Atlanta. My mom called me and she was like, "I'm so sorry. I wish I was there for you."

TVGO: What did you do that night?
Olivarez:
I had a couple of margaritas.

TVGO: Was anyone there to console you?
Olivarez:
No. It was just me. I don't have any friends [in L.A.].

TVGO: Please don't tell me you were alone in a bar drinking...
Olivarez:
I was downstairs with the security guard for about 30 minutes, and then I went upstairs to my room and had another margarita. And then I went to sleep.

TVGO: Who are you pulling for now on the show?
Olivarez:
I think all of the contestants are great in different ways, but I love Ruben's voice.

TVGO: What's next for you? Have you received any offers?
Olivarez:
I have. Things have actually been great since I was booted off. There was a very interesting little incident over at the the Beverly Center [a shopping mall in L.A.]. This girl came running up to me and it happened to be [actress] Tammy Lynn Michaels, who is Melissa Etheridge's girlfriend. And I ended up going to dinner at Melissa Etheridge's house that night.

TVGO: You're kidding me!
Olivarez:
No. It was weird. I met Kathy Najimy through Tammy Lynn Michaels, because they're really, really good friends. And Kathy said, "Oh my God, you have to stay in town an extra day and sing with my husband [Dan Finnerty]'s band, the Dan Band." So, I ended up staying an extra night and singing, and it was a total hit. I got approached with some other things at the show. So, I'm actually supposed to be going out to L.A. within the next few weeks to go and pursue some of those opportunities.

TVGO: Are they acting- or singing-related?
Olivarez:
Some are acting things. I actually would really like to pursue the acting avenue. I think that obviously, I delivered that line [on American Idol] very well. So maybe I should. (laughing)

TVGO: I have to ask: What's it like having dinner at Melissa Etheridge's house?
Olivarez:
It was very interesting. They made me feel very comfortable. They're very, very nice people. They have really, really sweet and polite kids, and a very, very nice family.

TVGO: What did you have for dinner?
Olivarez:
Pumpkin tortellini.

TVGO: Mmmm...
Olivarez:
Yeah, it was very good.

TVGO: Did Melissa cook?
Olivarez:
No, we ordered in.