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Beware San Francisco's Ninja Mistletoe

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- It can happen to anyone. You're walking down the street, maybe with someone you've just met, or worse--a co-worker--and you pause for traffic, and then suddenly, before you even realize what happened, you look up, and it's there: the Ninja Mistletoe.

The parasitic plant synonymous with guilt-free kisses, pecks on the cheek, or even long, lingering lip locks that, much like the letter L, cannot be completed without the tongue, is showing up surreptitiously.

Along Battery Street in the Financial District, it hangs by a clandestine fishing line, suspended above the sidewalk in a hovering display of potential herpes-carrying horror, again, depending on who you're caught under it with.

It's outside Brogan and Son Barber Shop, where not a lot of guys have been seen smooching before going in for a clip and shave, but hey, it's there for ya.

The danger of unexpectedly needing to kiss someone isn't just about mistletoe. It happens at the annual holiday party too, where after a year of barely rubbing shoulders with someone near the coffee maker, suddenly she or he grabs you and does that cheek-cheek kissing noise-kissing noise thing at the holiday party. Something about being outside of work and somewhat buzzed on cheap booze brings out the affections in people.

So what do do if YOU'RE caught under the mistletoe or in the office embrace?

1. Get it over with. Peck 'em on the cheek.

2a. If they go for the lips, you've got about 1/10 of a second to decide how much you like them and whether your breath stinks like the garlic fries you just downed. Plan ahead. That mistletoe stuff is everywhere.

2b. If this is at a party. just give 'em a big bear hug. You can't kiss or get kissed while in a bear hug, and everyone remembers the bear hug, and not the awkward kissy-kissy thing.

3. If you don't like them, laugh, and say, "Why do people kiss under a parasitic plant that kills trees?"

4. There's always the option of eating the mistletoe quickly, then getting rushed to the emergency room before the poison puts you out of commission for the entire season. But hey, you didn't have to kiss them. Yeah, we don't recommend that one. This stuff's seriously poisonous. Like it can kill you. Keep it away from kids and pets too.

Oh, and watch out for guys like this.

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