The Crown Mystery

My friend Laura reminded me of a story from years ago. I had been driving around Lexington and had started noticing these miniature crowns primly displayed in people’s cars, on the dashboard, or in the back window– plastic, shiny, ornate crowns. I noticed that the driver or occupants were frequently black, and I just intuitively decided that this was some expression of black solidarity, but nothing overly militant, like the myths I found at snopes as I thought back on this story, years later. I just thought: Hmm. Black pride. African Kings. A reminder of heritage. Something. Finally, I got my chance to ask. I was at a stop light and a lady pulled up next to me with a glittering crown on her dashboard. I rolled down my window and motioned for her to roll down hers. She looked a bit skeptical, but rolled down her window, and I smiled and said: “I’m curious about the crown on your dashboard! Can I ask what it is?” And with a no emotion whatsoever, she said these two words to me: “Air freshener.” The period was palpable. There was nothing more to say, we rolled up our windows and that was the end of the Crown Mystery for me.

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