I’ve always had a thing for brunettes. I prefer Shirley to Laverne, Mary Ann to Ginger and Lacey to Cagney.
It should come as no surprise that I married a foxy brunette.
But there is one brown-haired girl that I never even considered until my 23-month-old son pointed her out. Her skin is naturally tan. Her smile is framed by sunshine, and her clothing is retro chic.
Bubba noticed this unassuming babe while snacking on raisins. He looked at the goddess on the red box and said, “Mommy!”
I picked up the box of Sun-Maid Raisins and immediately saw the resemblance. Just like the girl on the label, The Wife is also a long-haired brunette with a pleasant smile.
“Yeah, that’s mommy,” I told my impressionable son.
It progressed from that point. Bubba eats a lot of raisins. It’s a healthy snack without additives or preservatives. Every time, he points to the box and says, “Mommy, mommy on there.”
Sun-Maid is also a sponsor of several PBS programs. These cartoons are shown without commercial interruption. Between the shows, they do sneak in a few ads including one that features a brunette in a red sunbonnet.
As soon the final credits for “Arthur” or “Curious George” begin to roll, Bubba inevitably asks, “Mommy coming?”
One morning, he woke up cranky, demanding to see his mother who left for work about 45 minutes earlier. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” Bubba cried.
“Mommy is… picking raisins,” I told him, quickly brainstorming for something to soothe him.
Soon, he was telling everyone within earshot about his mother’s profession. People often stop me while I am pushing the stroller to ask Bubba, “Where’s mommy today?”
It’s an awkward question that I hear a lot as a stay-at-home dad. I really doubt those same folks would stop a stay-at-home mom and ask, “Where’s daddy today?”
Regardless, Bubba now has a snappy reply for these curiosity-seekers.
I usually go on to explain that his mom isn’t really picking produce but simply looks like the girl on the Sun-Maid box. Actually, it’s easier than trying to explain her real job description.
One of my buddies got such a kick out of the raisin gag, he superimposed The Wife’s picture on the Sun-Maid box. It’s really hard not to chuckle just looking at the doctored photo. It also might be the inspiration for a killer Halloween costume.
After doing a bit of research, I learned the original Sun-Maid girl was Lorraine Collett Petersen. She was drying her long-dark hair in the backyard of her parents’ home in Fresno, Calif., when she was asked to pose for a painting while holding a basket of fresh grapes.
I’m sure Bubba will some day want to know what his mother really does to support our family. When that day comes, I’ll be glad to tell him. But for now, picking raisins will do.
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.