Like many adult children of parents, I recently found myself back in my childhood home for the holidays. After our famous Christmas dinner, seconds, thirds, fourths, and dessert, I had pretty much gotten what I came for (Whole Foods wine!). Only, I had three more days with the soul-crushing monotony of suburbia starring my down the barrel. Now, I enjoy a good prank as much as the next thirty-two year old fully grown man. So after my fourth trip to the mall that Saturday, I decided to replace all photos in our home with printed-out pictures of celebrity actress and Activia spokeswoman Jamie Lee Curtis. Just to see if anyone would notice.
I started in the living room (where the most photos are), then worked my way to the kitchen (a few less options), and eventually into every room of the house. I even replaced the painting of seashells in the upstairs bathroom (the one with two toilets) with a canvas print of the Fish Called Wanda theatrical release poster ($12.95 CVS Photo same-day pick up use the code JR505 for 10% off!). I also had the option of making a calendar with photos of JLC for every month but I chose the canvas print because it was a better deal and also objectively funnier. And I also wasn’t happy with the October photo of JLC they chose (from her early work!!).
After over 48 hours of labor and $92 of printer ink well spent, I had replaced every precious family memory in my home with mini shrines to Jamie Lee Curtis. And then, I waited. And waited. And waited even more. Days, weeks, and months passed. No one laughed. No one cried. No one asked “hey, why is there a framed photo of that woman who’s great on Scream Queens in our living room?”
Somehow, my little prank had failed. I had to move on. And so I did. I went back to the city and out it all behind me. But some questions haunted me at night: “Was it just that they didn’t see…should I have moved the arm chair in the living room?”
In the years that followed, I visited my parents as much as my schedule as a part time barista would allow. And as I did I also became accustomed to being startled by the cold, warm, inviting, or hostile image of Jamie Lee Curtis, depending on the photo. (She has the range.)
It wasn’t until this year that I noticed the cases and cases of Activia lining the kitchen floor. I was lured into the kitchen that day by a curious smell. It is impossible to describe, other than I imagine it’s what the color clear tastes like. Sort of nothing but also definitely something. I walked into my kitchen to find my dad emptying containers of low fat, sugar-free Activia yogurt into a blender. I looked up at him, my hands trembling, “Dad, what are you doing?” I asked. “Making dinner,” he said as he started the blender.
“Did you know Activia Greek is the only Greek yogurt with exclusive probiotics that helps regulate your digestive system?”
Next, I yank open the fridge and what I saw next you wouldn’t believe but might’ve seen coming from the title of this article. No vegetables. No milk. No Totino’s pizza rolls. Just cases and cases of Activia Yogurt, as far as the eye could see. It’s then when I see it.
From the window in the kitchen that looks out onto the driveway, I see mother pull up with groceries. I follow her movement as she passes a bag of unmarked groceries to another pair of hands that I immediately recognize from Halloween H20. I trace the hands up an elegantly subtle pantsuit, passed the thick rimmed glasses, all the way up to the signature pixie.
Jamie Lee Curtis.
It’s been seven years since I burned all my precious family memories and placed various photos of Jamie Lee Curtis in their frames. She’s now as much a part of the family as any of us, and more so than my cousin Linda. She joins us for Thanksgiving every November, and leads us in prayer, followed by a list of factoids about the nutritional value of Activia yogurt. Though she spends Christmases in LA with her sister (also an actress). We eat exclusively Activia yogurt now, which is great because it’s always on sale and there plenty of flavors to choose from (strawberry banana is my favorite). I guess it’s true what they say about vision boards and the “law of attraction,” because all it took was placing a few photos of Jamie Lee Curtis around the house to bring her into my life. And change it forever.
And the best part? My digestive system has never felt better.