Terry Talbert: Building keeps me on pins and needles

October 05, 1997

If you ever go to the American City Building in Columbia, Md., where I get acupuncture, you will enter another dimension. Now, some have said I'm the one in another dimension. Others have said the fact that I get needled there distorts my perception.

I maintain the building is in the Twilight Zone.

It is in this building that a total stranger looked at my friend and I and said, "Don't get on that elevator. It's been doing strange things today."

Unfortunately, we didn't listen. We'd just finished our acupuncture treatments and were in a state of puncture-induced euphoria. We got on the elevator and pushed "lobby." We were on the first floor.


I swear on my brother Ralph's - that my friend and I felt no real movement in the couple of seconds it took for the elevator doors to re-open.

We stepped out, and recognized nothing.

"Where are we?" I asked.

My friend looked at the wall above the elevator. "It says we're on the eighth floor," she said.

"How did we get here. We didn't go anywhere ... did we?" I said. "I mean, we got in and the doors closed and a second later the doors opened and we were here. Right?"

"Right," my friend said. She tends to take strange occurrences in stride.

At this point, I saw a large frog sitting on the floor in front of me, grinning rakishly. We were in some corporate headquarters or another and this humongous, obese, smiling statue-esque amphibian was staring at us.

It struck me funny. I started to laugh.

Just about this time a sober-looking man in business suit approached the elevator, where we were waiting for the doors to open again.

I normally don't find frogs humorous, but this one was hilarious. I absolutely had no choice but to laugh. It was out of my control. I laughed so hard I doubled over. It was embarrasing. It was the kind of laugh that consumes you when you're in church and something strikes you funny and you know you can't laugh and your stomach starts to convulse ... You know what I mean.

Then my friend started to chuckle. She's by no means a giggler. This was out of character.

Anyway, tears were streaming down our faces by the time we spotted this guy approaching us. Being grown women with a certain amount of dignity, we tried mightily to stop laughing. As we all got into the elevator, we were able to sort of snort to a temporary stop.

The man stared at us like we were aliens.

That struck me funny.

I started laughing again. That got my friend going. By the time we hit the lobby, we were both bent over, clutching our stomachs and uttering barely understandable words of profuse apology to the stranger in the elevator.

It was a horrible experience. We simply couldn't control ourselves, no matter how much we tried.

I blame that on the building.

The stranger never cracked a smile. I also blame that on the building. Not once during the whole eight-floor descent did he so much as curl up the corners of his mouth.

For some reason, that made us laugh harder.

As we started to stagger off the elevator, the straight-faced man looked at us and spoke for the first time. "Now, tell me what you're REALLY laughing at," he said ominously.

Now tell me, isn't that a strange thing for someone to say? I mean, wouldn't it be more normal to say something like, "What's so funny?"

I'm telling you, it's a sick building. Sick in the head.

It takes you on weird elevator rides, and sometimes even makes you say stupid things.

I was with the same friend the other day in the lobby of the building. We were looking around in the gift/coffee shop.

"I think I'll go outside and smoke a cup of tea," I said.

"OK," she said.


I'm telling you, it's the building. It's the crazy, possessed building. That's what it is.


Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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