According to Celtic folklore and Norse mythology (what up, Google?!), the mistletoe became a sign of fertility and love centuries ago. Herpes notwithstanding, mistletoe is one of two things: a holiday version of spin the bottle or a harassment case waiting to happen. Navigating the choppy and treacherous waters of potential mistletoe scenarios can be dicey as hell. But, fortunately for you, we’re here lookin’ out. So make like your favorite ‘90s R&B group and turn up the cheesy romance, G. We’ll be the Goose to your Maverick when it comes to bagging the ladies. (Without all the death and dogfights though.)
Startup homies beware, a mistletoe at work, even after hours at a work function is a potential HR nightmare. Don’t have an HR department to tell you what to do? Even worse. Steal that shit and let that fine-ass coworker you hid it as a favor to her in order to help her out. Now the thirsty crew will have one less reason to harass her. You’re a hero, champ. High fives and handshakes all around. The technique is a perfect icebreaker to approach her too. Even if she's giving you flirty vibes, don't make the mistletoe magically reappear in your hands mid-conversation unless you want her phone number to magically disappear from your phone.
Potentially the biggest mistletoe minefield you’re likely to face is the holiday cocktail party. As you enter, have your strategy prepped and keep your head on a swivel. If the holiday party you’re invited to has mistletoes lying around like a war-torn Iraqui slum, don’t catch shrapnel. Tradition states that anyone caught under it has to kiss the nearest person. Fuck that. Stay sober enough to maneuver away from hazards. Even if the gathering has a shitload of hotties, one too many kisses and you’re a lip slut. There’s a reason there isn’t a nickname past filthy fourths. Three letters, homey. H.P.V. Pick one and focus. Once you’ve zeroed in on your target, stay focused and use your wit and charming personality to ensure success. If the mistletoe is laying around, fight all your natural instincts and let it be. Don't be the unoriginal tool who picks it up and attaches it to his belt buckle and laughs like an idiot. Bro, that joke wasn't funny 23 years ago, come on. You're better than that. Now, pinning it to your collar or lapel and making subtle, self-deprecating jokes? That just might work. It's definitely a gamble but hey, you bet big, you win big.
Before heading out, stretch for about five minutes before heading anywhere that might have mistletoe. You don’t want to pull a muscle ducking, dodging, and diving away from unwanted lips and sexual innuendo. There's more than a decent chance you'll have to pull a Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix" to avoid standing under that damn plant. There's also a small chance you'll get cornered. Be a good sport and offer the most platonic peck on the cheek as possible and keep it moving.
Should you find yourself lucky enough to link up with a crush under the mistletoe, keep it clean. It’s only a precursor of what might come, not a guarantee. No tongue, and remember anything beyond a half second is creepy, even if it’s on the cheek. You’ll know if she’s into it. She’ll either stick around to chat or slap the spit out of your mouth. The former means you actually have to be interesting enough for her to see potential in you, beyond her beer goggles. The latter means the kiss was uninvited, not that she moonlights as a dominatrix.
Under no conditions are you to raise one or both eyebrows when making eye contact under the mistletoe. No lip biting either, you pervert. Roll with the quizzical look. It’s the most harmless and the curve won’t nearly be as savage if she’s not feeling you. Finally, if you do get the dreaded “averting her eyes” play it cool. Laugh it off like a champion and have another drink. As you savor that drink, re-focus and dig deep like it’s the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. Hey, Tom Brady hasn’t won every game he’s played in but he knows there’s always another set of downs.