It was a promising start to the holiday season. Fortunately, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was stuck in Lawrence’s head and not “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” His left arm was still freshly sore from his flu shot a few days ago and he had taken three vitamin C gummies instead of the recommended two. He could feel his immune system pumping. Taking a sip of hot chocolate and letting it burn the inside of his esophagus, Lawrence sighed contentedly, wishing for snow in the back of his mind.
He stepped out of the cafe into the brisk 60-degree weather, reminded once again that no matter how hard he wished, he could not change the painfully mild climate of Los Angeles. Passerby in shorts gave judgemental stares at his puffy winter coat and beanie with a pom-pom. Lawrence ignored them, but silently put his mittens into his pocket.
He walked around town, mostly looking for Christmas gifts, and stumbled upon a small business that matched his enthusiasm for the holiday. As the sickly scent of artificial cinnamon and spice grew stronger, he entered the store the same time someone was exiting it.
“Mistletoe!” the store owner screeched at her two customers. “Look up!”
Lawrence and the other customer both looked up and found a scrap of foliage dangling from the door frame. She was also wearing a beanie, although it had no pom-pom, and her glasses were fogged up beyond recognition of her eyes.
“That just looks like a piece of grass you pulled from the sidewalk,” Lawrence said, eyeing the mistletoe suspiciously.
“Hey, what the hell! If she says it’s mistletoe, then it’s mistletoe,” the stranger said.
Lawrence didn’t know if it was the thought of kissing a random person messing with his brain, or if the store owner had actually turned up the volume of the Michael Buble playing. Before he could respond, she leaned forward… and did one of those European greeting kisses where she just hovered her face in the general vicinity of either side of his face.
The store owner clapped while the girl disappeared, and Lawrence could clearly see her turning the volume knob on her speaker down so that “Holly Jolly Christmas” returned to a normal level for background noise.
“Can I help you on this merry day?” she asked.
“No, I think I’m good,” Lawrence said with an awkward chuckle, then quickly dashed out to find the girl. “Wait!” he yelled, crossing the street illegally and violating the jaywalking law.
Lawrence caught sight of her beige coat and turned the corner, only to be blocked by a bakery employee.
She handed him a business card, which he desperately tried to refuse. “Come to Sally’s Bakery— Oh look! You’re our one hundredth customer to receive a business card!”
Lawrence’s face fell as he noticed the gold stamp on his card. “Merry Mistletoe Miracle,” he read like a death sentence.
“That means you win a free yule log! Come inside!” She beckoned enthusiastically.
“I don’t really need a–”
“Here you go!” A red paper bag came flying at his chest, forcing him to take it. “Happy holidays!”
Lawrence mumbled his thanks and continued his dash down the streets, accidentally kicking the yule log several times before miraculously spotting the person in a shop selling bath bombs shaped like Christmas trees.
“Would you like to try our limited edition hand lotion?” a worker yelled over “Sleigh Ride” at him.
“I’m good, thanks.”
“It’s called—” Lawrence read the label just as the employee said, “Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe.”
As he turned around to see the person who had set this all off leave the store, the employee had already pumped a bit of “Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe” into his palm.
“Would you like me to rub it for you?”
“I’M GOOD,” Lawrence said, drawing back and quickly wiping the lotion on his jeans. He ran back out onto the sidewalk, choosing the route he didn’t need to wait at the crosswalk for. After walking straight for a few blocks, Lawrence passed by a shop selling fishing rods. He felt something hit the back of his head and swung his yule log wildly.
“Haha, got you there,” the old store owner said, holding what seemed to be a green and red blob on a rod. “Want one?”
Lawrence questioned his sanity as his eyes confirmed it was in fact, mistletoe on a stick.
“You can just dangle it in the air. Portable kissing bait,” the man said.
“No thanks, I don’t fish,” Lawrence replied.
The old man shrugged. “You can have it for free.”
Lawrence couldn’t resist free stuff.
He hadn’t seen the mystery girl in a while, so he headed to a pharmacy to pick up some supplies. Lawrence figured “don we now our gay apparel” meant that it was the perfect time to buy some festive nail polish. As he examined a dark green color, he nearly screamed when he saw the words “Mouthwatering Mistletoe.” Outraged, he settled for the slightly less fitting color, “Pine-ing For You.”
Lawrence was reminded to pick up some deodorant as he began sweating in his layers, which were vastly inappropriate for the pharmacy’s heater system. As his eyes came across the scent, “Fresh Mistletoe: Limited Edition,” Lawrence sank to his knees and hissed, “No one wants to kiss me this bad!” An employee shelving toothpaste gave him a look, to which Lawrence responded, “Rough day,” and the employee nodded understandingly.
He trudged down the street back home with a bag of non-mistletoe scented products, dejectedly humming “Last Christmas.” He passed by a bar and decided to stop for a drink. At least he wouldn’t be plagued by some festive herb there.
“Would you like to try a ‘Mistletoe Martini?’” the bartender asked.
Lawrence slammed the bar ledge. “Goddammit, I will.”
Sipping on his disgusting cocktail, he spotted a familiar pom-pom-less beanie. “You!” he spat. “You! Hey!”
She turned around as Lawrence ran up and shook her fiercely. “The mistletoe are out to get me because of you!”
“Why are you here?”
Lawrence had been so consumed by the mistletoe crisis he forgot why he had gone through it in the first place. “Oh,” he said. “To get your number. I thought you were kind of cute.”
“Oh, sure, me too. My name’s Walter.”
Lawrence blinked, ignoring the first part. “Wait, what.” He scrutinized Walter in the dark bar, this time without the fogged up glasses. “I thought you were a girl,” he said sheepishly.
“I’m bisexual, though.”
Walter’s face lit up. “Well, then, hit me up.”
Lawrence pulled out the mistletoe fishing rod from his bag and dangled it over their heads. “I promise I'll tell you what this all means later, but right now, I want to mistle-know you better.”