The Mittle-man on Campus: Under the Mistletoe


Illustration Credit: Sydney Fener

Sarah Mittleman, Opinion Editor

‘The Mittle-man on Campus’ is a satirical column centered around high school clichés and the teenage experience. None of the articles in this column are representative of the opinions of The Chronicle staff as a whole.

Welcome, devoted readers, to the ninth issue of my column! For those of you who don’t know me, I am the school’s resident Advice Giver, and I volunteer my time to provide students with direction. Currently, my expertise is offered free of charge, but I have been regularly emailing President Rick Commons asking for compensation. It’s only a matter of time before he replies. As the main character, I’m an expert on drama and romance, which makes me an extremely qualified guide. I also pretty much tell the writers (the ones responsible for this high school’s storyline) what to do. They’d be nothing without me. Most of my advice centers around the most important aspect of high school: romance. Meeting your soulmate is made to seem easy in the movies, but it actually requires a lot of commitment. Depending on the genre you’re working with, you may have to fine-tune your own character so your love interest falls into your lap. This task may seem daunting at first, but that’s why I’m here.

The winter holidays are fast approaching, and we all know they tend to be rife with love and excitement. If Hallmark movies are any indication, there will probably be a few balls to attend, a white Christmas and lots of drama. Devoted readers, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that winter is clearly the best season to delve into romance. Whether it’s kissing in the snow, having deep conversations by the warm fireplace or wrapping presents for your sweetheart, there are hundreds of ways to show your love. Nothing beats an entire month of holiday lights, hot chocolate and fuzzy throw blankets. And that’s not to mention the numerous Hallmark documentaries available to help us navigate these winter romances. The bad news is while these movies are holiday staples, they aren’t always very realistic. We can pin it on poor storytelling or lazy writing, but the bottom line is that with few exceptions, they fail to deliver authentic, 3D characters. It doesn’t help that most of them are built on cliches. Some of the characters are so poorly written that plots teeter on a pyramid of overdone tropes. Those of you who regularly read my column know that I have a love-hate relationship with these cliches. However, if any of us want to live out our holiday romance fantasies, it’s important that we embrace these tropes and replicate the classic storylines. Although we Californians probably won’t get a lot of snow this year, we can at least find true love if we do our best to recreate our holiday movie fantasies. Here are a few tropes to inspire your personal winter romance:

1. Get Used to a Country Life

We all know this one: The protagonist is stuck in a miserable office job, slowly moving up the ranks. She lives in a fancy New York apartment, frequently wears blazers and never lets her hair down (both metaphorically and literally). Her partner is money-hungry and boring, lacking personality and spirit. The relationship is fraught with tension, but everything changes when our main character is forced to travel to a small country town during the holidays. There, she meets a ruggedly handsome country dweller who rejects the modern age—he scoffs at cell phones and social media, preferring his tractor and a good apple pie. At first, she hates him and the way he tries to tear down her emotional walls, but eventually, he charms her with his old-fashioned lifestyle and holiday spirit. In the end, she gives up her big-city job to work on his ranch just in time for Christmas.

This is a very specific cliche, but if country boys are your style, then it’s not too hard to recreate. The first step is to live in a city, of course. While it’s not ideal, Los Angeles will make a fine replacement for the Big Apple. From there, make sure you’re in a loveless relationship by December. This step is more difficult, as it involves finding both a partner and harboring resentment towards them. Be warned: Doing this incorrectly may result in an enemies-to-lovers situation, putting your preferred quaint, small-town storyline at risk. For this reason, you must proceed with caution to avoid any crackling chemistry or provocative banter with your partner. Now, since we’re teenagers, we’ll have to replace the miserable work environment with high school (same difference) and attend college in the countryside. After that, the story basically writes itself. If you’re willing to work on a farm for the sake of true love, then I recommend planning this now– the new year is fast approaching.

2. Attend a Ball

For some reason, holiday movies often involve royal celebrations. I mean, just look at “The Christmas Prince” and “The Princess Switch,” two Netflix series (miraculously, both were renewed for several sequels) that involve tiny, made-up kingdoms. Typically, in these fish-out-of-water stories, the protagonist finds herself living in the castle with a handsome prince. She’s clumsy, a little socially awkward and certainly not “princess material.” But when the prince sees her walking down the stairs at the royal holiday ball clad in a stunning gown, it’s love at first sight. If you can find a royal family and secure an invitation to their ball, I highly recommend this trope. In fact, the school administration should look into implementing a winter formal at school so we can all live out holiday fantasies at our convenience. President Rick Commons, riddle me this: Why is it that we have dances in autumn and spring but not winter, which is arguably the most romantic time of the year?

3. Take Inspiration from “Home Alone”

Well, it may not be a Hallmark movie, but it is a classic. This one takes a little guesswork, but I think the best move is to purposefully miss your plane and thus skip your family vacation. Now that you have the entire house to yourself, just wait for men to flock to you. But be warned: There’s no way of knowing whether the two men who attempt to break into your house will be attractive. Your best bet is to cross your fingers and hope it’s not Joe Pesci. Really, this is more of a last-ditch attempt at love. The good thing is you can use Kevin’s tried and true tricks to fend them off if they don’t meet your standards.

4. Be the Quirky Love Interest

While it’s always ideal to be the all-important yet relatable main character, sometimes you have to adjust your strategy to find the love you’re searching for. Be a total klutz: Trip over anything and everything no matter what. Always dust yourself with flour before running into your soulmate. Make sure your hair is messy (but still looks professionally done at all times) and wear funky, adorable winter-themed outfits. Doing this practically ensures you’ll meet a handsome, brooding man who still has his guard up after his previous relationship’s tragic end. He’ll be enamored with your undying optimism and naivete, eventually opening up to you enough to fall head over heels in love. Do this right and you’ll be engaged by New Year’s Eve.

5. Date Your Hot Nemesis

In the first trope I described, I discouraged you from falling into the enemies-to-lovers trope for the purposes of that specific scenario. However, I actually think winding up with your attractive rival can be a great holiday twist. Let’s say you have a holiday school event or a wedding to attend, but you’re fresh out of dates. Just take your irritatingly handsome enemy along with you as your plus one and watch the magic happen. After hours of smoldering glares and passionate back-and-forths, one of you will eventually declare your secret feelings for the other in the snow (holiday magic will make sure it’s cold enough in LA for a flurry). Your relationship will clearly be full of passion, and even though it may not last very long, it’ll probably get you through the holiday season.

6. Be a TSA Nightmare

It has been said that somebody who is truly in love will do anything to prove their affection. Well, I say let them prove it “Love, Actually” style. This technique will work wonders supposing somebody already has their eye on you, and it’s fairly easy. The first step is to book a plane ticket for Christmas Eve and make it clear to your love interest that once you’ve boarded the flight, you’re never coming back. If they really care about you, why shouldn’t they be willing to skid through TSA just to confess their feelings and beg you to stay? I mean, it’s the bare minimum. The one risk to this technique is the possibility that your soulmate doesn’t arrive in time. Tardiness is unattractive, especially when you’re expecting them to pull out all the stops. That’s why, to ensure the effectiveness of this plan, you should pretend your flight is three hours earlier than it actually is. It’s a win-win: You get to leisurely walk through security and sit down for a snack, and you guarantee yourself a profession of love. Sure, the grand gesture may be a nuisance to everybody in the airport just hoping to get home for the holidays, but I think they’ll understand once they see how cute you guys are together.

7. Go Full “Die Hard”

So maybe it’s not a rom-com, but “Die Hard” is still set during the holidays, so it applies. Plus, all you have to do is crawl through the vents of a skyscraper during a hostage situation to live out your heroic fantasies. It may be a little difficult to find yourself in a hostage situation in the first place, I’ll give you that. You also may get badly injured by all the action-packed gunfights. But if you’re hoping to rekindle a romance with your wife (you might be surprised by how many high school students are actually married), this technique is 100% effective, which makes it all worthwhile. Besides, who doesn’t want to fill their holidays with murder and mayhem?

Well, there you have it, folks: a few foolproof ways to secure a winter romance. Make sure to keep these tips in mind wherever you go. I wish you all the best of luck in all things love-related, whether you choose to partner up with your rival, move to the countryside or something in between. Happy holidays to all my loyal readers, and don’t forget to advocate for my official position in the school staff directory as Advice Giver!