It was a fax from a tree-shaded house at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in Montgomery.
"How about coming over to our house for lunch and a healing touch session?"
Not the kind of fax a big-time newspaper columnist gets every day. Most question the number of digits in my IQ. So I assumed Maggie Moschell and Mike Schneider really knew how to bait a hook.
And I bit for another installment of "Lunch with Cliff." That's where I treat - and people share what's on their minds.
We gathered at their usual midday meal spot, their dining room table. (I still bought, a home delivery from the Pacific Moon Cafe.) Expecting touchy-feely weirdness, I was pleasantly surprised by this down-to-earth couple.
They talked about the healing touch session as I nervously chewed my pepper steak. I pictured hands all over me, tying my legs in knots and mailing me to a nutty cult of comet-worshipers. Beam me up, Scotty.
Mike's a healer in training. Maggie's his assistant. Married for 17 years, they pay their bills by painting toy prototypes.
The day I was there, three identical Tweety Bird heads with just-painted blue eyes rested upside down on the mantel above the family room's fireplace. Four white rabbits stood nearby waiting for a coat of Bugs Bunny gray.
Mike and Maggie paint in the family room. Sitting in matching overstuffed chairs, hunched over matching paint tables, they watch TV or listen to the radio as they work.
The prototypes are exquisitely hand-painted so they look good in commercials, ads and packaging materials.
Maggie runs the toy-painting business. She started it 12 years ago so she could stay at home with their daughters, Leigha, 12, and Alyson, 9.
At lunch, she inhales her food and makes plans. Who's air-brushing the toys' faces? Who'll pick up the kids?
Mike's the opposite. "I just go with the flow." At lunch, he reflects on "how lucky I've got it."
After lunch, he'll sit outside for a few minutes "to meditate and appreciate the sunshine, something I never thought I would ever do on a weekday."
Mike worked in a commercial darkroom for 20 years processing other peoples' pictures.
"He was so pale," Maggie says. "We used to call him the Mole Man."
Mike quit in February. He was tired of the office politics. And he realized he wasn't "doing what I truly wanted to do."
Mike likes working with his wife, and knows painting Bugs Bunny pays the bills.
But what he truly wants to do is heal.
As the lunch dishes are cleared away, talk turns to having a healing session. You take off your shoes, they tell me, and lie on a padded table. While relaxing music plays, the healer's hands flutter over you like a pair of butterflies. The healer is "feeling" for energy fields. Sites of stress are identified. Hands are laid - gently, this is not a massage - on the bad spots. It's supposed to give wing to pain, psychic as well as physical.
Mike talks hesitantly about it.
Maggie blurts out: "You want one?"
Sure, why not.
On goes the haunting American Indian flute music. Off go my shoes. My head and back hurt as I lie on the padded table.
Mike and Maggie face each other across the table and wave their hands in silence over my body. Never speaking, he gives her cues about what he senses in his fingers, heat from my headache, tension from the soreness in my back.
More hand-waving. My pulse slows. The headache stops throbbing. As they move from head to toe, I'm blanketed in warmth. And no has touched me.
It's over in 15 minutes. I'm not going to say I was healed. But something was definitely going on here. Mike and Maggie have a special touch.
Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.