Just Say No To Mistletoe
by Hypatia Kosh
Thanks to Laura Goodwin for suggestions on this piece loooong ago, and to Farfalla for more recent cleanup help.
"Do Vulcans celebrate holidays, Mr. Spock?"
"But, don't you consider them--illogical?"
"Not at all. The various holidays in the Vulcan calendar serve a myriad of practical purposes, although you would undoubtedly find the enumeration tedious."
"Harvest festivals, and the like."
"We do have agricultural holidays, among others. Holidays primarily serve the purpose of encapsulating and transmitting our cultural heritage from generation to generation."
"I see . . ."
"Why do you ask?"
"Just wondering. Say, you wouldn't happen to observe any of those holidays here, would you?"
"I do not."
"To what purpose? I can conceive of none."
"I don't know. Nostalgia, perhaps."
"Since 'nost-algia' literally means 'the pain of memory' it hardly seems to me an attractive motivation to do anything."
"We humans are funny creatures, as I'm sure you've noticed."
"You know, I always did think it was silly to celebrate the winter solstice on board a starship. We don't even have days, never mind seasons."
"On the other hand, I am rather fond of some of the traditions. Gift-giving, writing letters, Christmas . . . even the decorations."
"Blinking lights and evergreen clippings lose even their symbolic value on a starship, since, as you say, we experience no seasons."
"Right. But a few bells and bric-a-brac in the Rec Room for a couple of weeks won't kill anyone. It's kind of nice, I think."
"May I ask why we're discussing this, Captain?"
"I wonder if I'm being unreasonable."
"In what way?"
"I was asked . . . by a very interesting 'committee' I should add, about whether I would allow the hanging of mistletoe. I . . . don't know if you're familiar with that plant--"
"I am aware of the customs surrounding Viscum Album, specifically the hanging thereof above doorways."
"It seems the purpose is to break the cultural taboos imposed during the rest of the year. Some need humans have?"
"I don't think it's taboo-breaking so much as needing a break from the monotony of the routine."
"Through heavy drinking and sexual promiscuity?"
"Now, hold on, it's just kissing. What would alcohol--"
"When one observes a number of ostensibly straight sailors of the same sex kissing, there are never not large quantities of alcohol involved."
"Ha ha ha! I take it you observed this behavior very carefully."
"As much as I could stomach, Sir."
"Ha ha ha! Very good. Well, to make a long story short, I told them 'no.' I said it would not foster a professional atmosphere, and so on--you know the routine."
"Interesting. I should not be surprised if some intrepid souls will not take it upon themselves to improvise. This will have been the first year, to my knowledge, that they have been so deprived."
"Yes, they are a resourceful lot, aren't they? We'll deal with any miscreants as they come up. I don't understand, though, about what you said before. Why would men kiss men when there are women around?"
"There are women, but hardly enough to go around. In the past the inequality was even more pronounced, so in some sense sodomy can be considered a tradition of the service."
"Yes, it was the same on the Farragut. I'm surprised about the Enterprise. This is such a big ship that I imagined it would be a tradition honored more in the breach."
"You must realize that a large proportion of the female officers on this ship are either gay, or follow a policy of not fraternizing with male shipmates."
"How do you know that? . . . Those ears must hear a lot more . . . Sometimes I think you treat us all like a giant anthropology project."
"Serving with humans has been instructive."
"Must have been difficult, resisting the temptation to go native."
"Hardly, Captain. When I consider the indignities and emotional dangers that humans subject themselves to so eagerly in the pursuit of truly fleeting satisfactions, I find that following the Vulcan way is no sacrifice but rather a relief."
"It must make life much simpler."
"It does reduce unnecessary complications."
"I wonder, Mr. Spock--do you think that the human pursuit of love has anything noble in it, or is it mere folly, through and through?"
"That depends on what you mean by 'love.' The matter of 'getting laid' has little to recommend it. A long-lasting and pure-hearted affection, however, can be seen to in some way ennoble an individual. Having no experience of the latter, I speak only from outside observation."
"Does that mean you're willing to admit that there may be something to human emotion after all, that it's not all bad?"
"Ah. Well, in some cases, for humans, there is a beneficial effect seen with the application of positive emotion."
"Hm. I'm going to remember that, Spock. I don't suppose you'd be willing to generalize that statement to include other life forms--"
"--if you mean Vulcans--"
"--Application of positive emotion, on--upon?--a Vulcan. Could that be harmful?"
"Hardly. It would not matter to the Vulcan--"
"--You see I've been trying to make friends with this Vulcan for some time and he keeps resisting, so I was wondering if there was some reason . . ."
"For example, when I try to get him to open up he gets all formal on me and forgets I have a first name. Why would that be?"
"Perhaps you have simply chosen the wrong approach."
"Vulcan friendships are built on mutual trust. We believe that a privacy is created within a relationship between two individuals, and that once this privacy has been established it can encompass progressively more and more of each individual's personality."
"You're confusing me. You mean I have to be your friend, before I can be your friend?"
"No, Jim, it means that what we share now becomes the basis for what we share in the future. You will succeed in making me 'open up' when the space between us has grown large enough to encompass it."
"That sounds awfully esoteric. I had no idea Vulcans were so . . . so . . ."
"Very funny. It's a certain quality--I guess I didn't expect Vulcans would have a theory of friendship."
"Friendships are valued very highly in Vulcan society."
"I guess they must be logical."
"I don't see why you would find that humorous. They are logical, indeed, they are an integral part of the fabric of society."
"You must take it seriously, then. I've heard--that when a Vulcan gives his loyalty, it is rarely, if ever, rescinded."
"Loyalty is meaningless if inconstant. Vulcans do not go back on their oaths; there is no other way for us."
"I respect that. You must choose your allegiances very carefully. We humans have a tendency to give our loyalty to people and things who, on further reflection, don't really deserve it."
"A human in society is in need of allies, even be they inferior ones. I do not judge that ill."
"You're probably right, Mr. Spock. You have an outsider's perspective, so I suppose in some ways you know us better than we know ourselves."
"In some ways I am profoundly ignorant."
"I think we could learn a lot, from each other."
"A most excellent proposal, Captain. Jim."
"I believe it is customary to shake hands to confirm an agreement."
"So it is, Mr. Spock. So it is."
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