It Ain’t about the Plums

Allow me to tell you a story

When I was small, I spent a great deal of time with my Gramma at her home in SE NC. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the summer. I was surrounded by family and the neighborhood was brimming over with kids my age. We’d run and play and work (or what children call work) all day. There was always something to do and if not, we could always think of something. It was the “we could always think of something.” that this story is about.

Down the road from my Gramma’s house was her cousin Florence’s home and in Cousin Florence’s backyard was a plum tree, quite possibly the biggest plum tree ever to grow on the Earth. It grew those big black plums. You know the kind, big as an apple and sweeter that sugar cane and when you bit into one, the juice would run down your face in tiny torrents and no matter how hot the day, the flesh of the plums was always cool.

Whenever we would visit Cousin Florence, we would ask if we could pick a plum from her tree. She would say, “Oh, I wish you would. They are breaking down my tree. Don’t take just one, take two or three.”

She’d say to you, she’d say this to me

And she’d say it every time, to friend and stranger alike.

So what transpired one week in my eighth summer is worthy of note.

One day in mid summer, we, the kids in the neighborhood, had finished our chores and we were thinking of something to do. We came upon a plan.

It was brilliant plan, one of stealth and daring do. It would involve all of us and require precision, coordination, and cunning. Timing was of the utmost importance and  communication was essential.

What was this plan, this mission impossible you ask?

We were going to steal Cousin Florence’s plums.

Our plan, and it was beautiful, was that the girls would stage various distractions along the highway and in people’s front yards while the boys would sneak through the woods behind the houses until they were behind Cousin Florence’s house. While distracting her and her husband on their front porch, the boys would stealthily come upon the tree and steal the low hanging fruit.

We thought our plan flawless and we executed it with the skill of a James Bond (minus the whole getting caught part). We met in my backyard upon completion of the mission and shared the spoils of our labor. It all went so perfectly and the thrill was so intense that naturally, we decided to do it again the next day.

Out next expedition did not go so well.  It seemed our odd behavior the day before had raised suspicions and the adults of our community were on alert that something was up.

We were caught

Our bounty was confiscated

And belts and switches were waiting for us in our respective homes.

My grandmother, with each swing of the switch, asked in staccato fashion, “Why… did… you… steal… those… plums?”

All I could get out between yowls of pain was, “I don’t know!”

And the truth was, I didn’t know. See, the theft of the plums wasn’t about the plums. Every child involved knew all he or she had to do was ask and they could have all the plums they wanted. Ever child involved had bowls and bags of those same plums in their refrigerators.

The theft wasn’t about the plums, it was about the PLAN. It was the planning, the pretending, the creeping that was the attraction, was the fun.

Not about the plums, but about the plan.

What is going on in Raleigh, and in state house across Red-state America, ain’t about the plums, but about the plan and if you don’t get that, then you are missing the point.

  • If you think the problem is Republicans making govt so small it can fit in woman’s vagina, then you have missed the point
  • If you think the problem is making voting so complicated as to disenfranchise as many non-GOP voting bases as possible, then you missed the point
  • If you think the idea is to purge the nation of Spanish speaking dark skinned people people, then you have missed the point
  • If you think the idea is to privatize public education, then you have missed the point
  • If you think the problem is any ONE thing, then you have missed the point

It ain’t about the plums, it’s about the plan.

And what is the plan?


Not the 1953 that was, but the one on the TV. Pre-Roe v. Wade, pre-Brown v. Board, pre Griswald, pre color. A place where everything and everyone stayed in his, her, its place; a place determined not but work or merit but a script writer selling eyeballs to advertisers using formulaic story telling transmitted through a picture tube.

They want to bring back a time that never was in order to further an agenda that never worked and to enrich people who never deserved it.

You can’t just protect one plum, you have to watch the whole tree, guard the whole tree, protect the whole tree.

You can’t be distracted.

It ain’t about the plums, it’s about the plan.


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