We have had our share of, shall we say, interesting encounters - And it's safe to rate them on a scale of kookiness, but, if not in first place, then very close to it, is Max the Crystal Skull and his current owner.
We met Max and his keeper in a large Victorian house in the Philadelphia Main Line suburb of Wayne (think Adams family or University of Pennsylvania's Logan Hall). The owner of the house, a practitioner of Hawaiian massage and other exotic therapies, set up a whole day of private and group sessions with Max and managed to squeeze us in for an interview.
We were treated to a long spiel on crystals, their value in spiritual, physical, and emotional well being that some how or other involved the red hat Llamas of Tibet and the British Museum of Natural History.
It's not clear how the owner came in possession of Max. She told us that she had kept this crystal rock on a shelf in her closet until one day she heard a voice, calling, "let me out, let me out." She followed the voice to the crystal rock and heard, "My name is Max."
We had listened long enough and were packing up, but wait, "would you like to hold Max?" she asked Edgar. He agreed, and I quickly snapped that photo.
"How about you?" she asked me. I agreed and Edgar took my photo too.
"Max really likes the two of you," she said. "He normally doesn't let his picture be taken."
Out interview time was up because a group of ten paying customers arrived to sit in a circle, in silence, around Max, and meditate. We were told that individual customers, given 15 minute private sessions, would be arriving later.
The owner of the house, who got a percentage of the gate, had set up a table of crystal related items for sale. We saw pendants, pins, earrings, necklaces, books, and photos - all with a hefty price tag.
And, as we left, another group of ten was waiting to spend their paid for 30 minutes, in a circle, around Max the crystal skull - with all his magical powers.