As the former guardian of a teenage boy, and as an adult family man, I presently look at the world from a maturing perspective. From my point of view, characteristics such as responsibility and honesty trump characteristics like impetuousness, laziness, and rebellion. Every teenager, from my own self those decades ago, to the one who was under my roof, is rebellious, lazy, prone to haste, and ignorant of real-world consequences.
But this is the story of the actions of a teenager that are, quite honestly, amazingly selfish and thoughtless.
It was the Friday before spring break 1981 in Lawton, Oklahoma, and a nice day. My yearbook advisor Rick Hill and I had met up with the members of Eisenhower High School’s “Ike Mafia” to take a picture for the ad they bought for the ’81 Talon yearbook. We picked Chip Johnson’s house because it sported a circular driveway, we could get up on the roof to make the photo from above, and Chip was a member of the group and a yearbook staffer like me. The Mafia members were mostly rich kids whose parents owned expensive luxury cars, and those cars were props in the picture.
They circled the luxury cars in the driveway and placed two lawn chairs in the center. Most of the people in the photos donned mirrored sunglasses, which we simply called “mirrors,” and all the mafia members are wearing their signature “Ike Mafia” t-shirts. Amazingly by today’s standards, four of the ten people in the photo are holding firearms.
Jeff Glenn is the one on the far left side of the image. In all the frames except this one, his middle finger is extended.
When we were done making the picture, everyone got into their various cars and went home, except Jeff. He got into his gold Pontiac Trans Am and without telling anyone at all, most notably his parents, drove to Chicago to see his girlfriend. As a fellow 17-year-old, I wasn’t particularly concerned. But after being responsible for a 17-year-old, I can only imagine the phalanx of emotions that must have gripped Jeff’s parents when he didn’t come home, and as they waited the three days before he bothered to call and confirm what they suspected, that he had run away to see his girlfriend 1200 miles away.
His girlfriend was named Deanna, so in future conversations, we dubbed it “De Day.” It was a particularly rebellious act in the midst of a series of pointlessly rebellious acts, a series which ended in Jeff’s suicide just 14 months later, May 12, 1982.
If you are a parent, maybe you understand my point of view.