Leila discusses the CTA and dancing for hire

By Leila Sales

The CTA has thwarted me once again. It was a devious move on their part, too. Like, you don’t feel especially thwarted when the CTA raises its prices or fails to provide a bus at the appointed time. You expect that sort of behavior from them. If, for some reason, there actually were a #173 at the Wrigley Building at 7:20 pm, you would accuse the CTA of violating its principles. No, what they’ve done this time is entirely unprecedented and unfair. They have made my CTA card expire.

This might sound like not a big deal, but that is only because you want me to be unpopular. See, my CTA card was an integral part of my Plan For Popularity.

OK. Have you ever been at a party where, for some reason, people start showing off their “party tricks?” Invariably, they do things like tie cherry stems into knots with their tongues. This is actually not that impressive, and it is pretty much as cool as if their trick was French-kissing in front of an audience onstage. But these people are accepted as cool because they have a party trick.

Now, I cannot tie cherry stems with my tongue—not least because I hate the taste of cherries, and someone once told me they can give you cancer; also, when am I ever at parties that involve cherries? Are these, like, “make your own sundae” parties, or what? But I need a party trick anyway.

So, are you ready for it? This was going to be my party trick: having the same CTA card for all of college.

Just think about it. I’d walk around campus, and people would ask, “Who is that completely ordinary and probably unpopular girl?” And then their friends would answer in hushed tones, “Dude. She’s used the same CTA card for four years.” And then I’d win something, like jelly beans, maybe.

When I devised this plan, during O-Week of my first year, my friend Johanna pointed out that it wasn’t possible. Every time you insert your CTA card into the machine to add more money, she said, the machine spits back a different one, anyway. This was a rational but completely moronic and asinine point. As far as points go, this one was on par with Benjamin Franklin’s point about the Articles of Confederation, that you could, like, rule a nation under and stuff. Notice how Ben Franklin never got invited to the cool parties? He was also, like, 800 years older than every other founding father. Lameness.

It doesn’t matter, anyway, because now that my CTA card has expired, I have to resort to my old party tricks, namely, knowing all the words to the Bare Naked Ladies’ “One Week” and being an asshole. Neither of these went over that big in the first place, but they are pretty much all I’ve got. It makes going to parties somewhat less fun, always needing to drag along my Stunt CD and periodically asking in pitiful tones, “Anybody want me to put on my CD? I can sing along.”

Meanwhile, the popular kids have moved on to using their tongues to tie ballpoint pens or telephones into knots.

My newest plan for getting myself invited to parties—and it’s not a done deal yet, so don’t get too excited—is renting myself out as a dancer. See, people tend not to dance at parties, and I have not yet figured out why this is. It could be that they are busy drinking and getting people’s numbers so that someday they can have friends. But not me. I dance.

My version of dancing is this elaborate mishmash of musical theater moves, complete with high kicks and a forced smile, and a version of the mashed potatoes that looks like it was invented by a three-year-old with poor muscle control. My friend once told me that I danced like the big sister in Dirty Dancing, then hastened to add that she meant that “in the best way possible.” This was kind of offensive, and she is no Patrick Swayze.

Needless to say, my dancing has never inspired anyone to get up and join me. People prefer to keep their distance, sipping their drinks, laughing at me, and trying to avoid my flailing limbs.

Clearly, everyone should want me at his or her party. There is no end to the entertainment I provide. And it’s not even the sort of entertainment that requires effort on other people’s parts, like, say, playing pin the tail on the donkey. No, the rest of the party guests just sit there for a while, and I lunge around the room, and then everyone goes home. A wildly successful evening for all.

With talents like these, who needs public transportation?