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Diana Verde Nieto

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Mistletoe - Is it the Perfect Christmas Symbol of Romance or a Parasitic Serial Killer That Deserves Eradication?

Posted: 21/12/2012 20:24

I'm kinda 50/50 on that.

This week, I kissed a guy underneath the semi-parasitic evergreen. He seemed to deserve it, so I stood on tiptoe and even lifted my left leg - although I felt more like a cocker spaniel than Katherine Hepburn. Then I panicked and pulled away. I have an allergy both to the plant and to men... or at least, men at Christmas...

Mistletoe, Wikipedia tells me, sucks nutrients from its host, reducing her growth and damaging her health. Being with a man at Christmas can feel the same to me.

When I came to the UK I went for my first date in December (I arrived in October and stayed in for two months. That's what we do in Argentina when it rains... stay in. Then someone told me "this is how it is all the time in England").

The guy was a banker from Finland and drank so much I thought I was out with Rudolph the red nosed forex dealer. Rudy seemed to take pride in his collection of girlfriends from across the continent, telling me all about his four calling birds, three French hens and two turtle doves.

I had no interest in being his perdiz in a peral (although five gold rings is a different story... take a look at Jon Dibben's hand made designs for a fine example of Fair-trade jewelry made in the UK). The only ring he gave me was when he rang the following day to invite me over to his, as he called it, "shaaag pad". I didn't return the call so he invoiced me for my half of the bill. Seriously.

At least he had a little style when he sulked. A couple of years ago my then boyfriend Richard started sulking in his sleep the night before we were due to go Christmas shopping. By he time he woke up, he'd already been arguing with me for an hour in his dreams and got moodier as we got nearer to Piccadilly Circus.

'We' were buying presents for his family - we, in this case, meaning me offering a series of suggestions and him sneering his disapproval, maintain a low droning whine all the while: "I don't know why you even buy Christmas presents, I though you were supposed to be green, did you know we produce approximately 25%t more rubbish during Christmas. And I don't know why we're sending out cards. Did you know 744 million cards are sent each Christmas which is like half a million trees. And why are you buying wrapping paper? Didn't you know that we use 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper to wrap presents in a year - that's the equivalent of more than 50,000 trees..."

This being the first time Richard - or Dick, as he preferred me to call him, and he was living up to the name - had talked favourably about sustainability I should have been pleased. Somehow, I wasn't.

Eventually I found the closest thing to a man crèche, a pub showing the United game, and left him alone with beer. It was like releasing a slightly podgy bad tempered bear into his natural habitat. By the time I returned, he'd made friends with two other sleepy males and they were grunting contentedly to each other

Now... the original three wise men were drawn from Persia's Zoastrian priestly cast, studied astrology and alchemy and spent endless nights watching the stars. These three wise guys were studying the barmaid and spending endless hours watching the game.

Sure I'd bought Dick some beautiful Pukka Organic Frankincense & Avocado Total Repair Complex for his mum - a scented night cream that feels like the mystic east in a tube - and we were in Kingly Street but it was the burial spice myrrh that came to my mind. I wanted to kill the guy.

So kissing Luke this week I felt the parasitic tendrils of the mistletoe hanging above us creeping beneath my skin and into my veins.

I pulled away and said I had to run (this wasn't true or indeed possible. I was wearing an Eden Diodati Omega dress, which hugs the figure as tightly as it hugs the floor. Picking up a sprint would be less Jessica Ennis and more Jessica Rabbit - if Jessica Rabbit fell over whilst running downstairs...)

He asked why, and I said it was the mistletoe... my allergy... I hated the parasite...

Luke, it turns out, is a tree surgeon. The thing about mistletoe, he explained, is that it's a keystone species. So many animals depend on it for food, from its tender shoots to its sweet seeds; owls nest in its dense brooms; anything that eats mistletoe also eats juniper, so the bush flourishes nearby and biodiversity increases.

Mistletoe, he whispered, provides high quality food and habitat for a broad range of animals in forests and woodlands worldwide.

Shut up and kiss me again, I said.

 

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