RANGE: Under hot rods, barstools, and appreciated. On motorcycles, telephones and crying jags. In back seats, record stores, and really, really serious trouble this time. Beneath strange hats, the class average, and the age of reason. Behind the wheel, the couch, and in their homework.
HABITS: Teen Angels possess the bodies of all Americans between the ages of 12 and 21. They inspire in every adolescent the hallucination that the universe is a technicolor tragedy in Dolby Stereo starring themselves. They trick athletic young men into writing verse and academic young women into getting contact lenses. Wimpy math whizzes flex and pose in private before mirrors; working-class louts stare moodily into bus station photo machines. A formerly grave and sober girl-child develops a soul-consuming passion for the third guitarist from the left in a band named after a veterinary operation; a clean-cut suburban cub scout becomes the fanatic devotee of some Central American mystic agrarian reformer. With the onset (or threat) of puberty, their victim’s attention span shrinks to that of a brain-damaged moth—save for the uncanny ability to meditate, for days, on possible modifications to the mudguards or sideburns.
HISTORY: There is no record of Teen Angels—or teenagers, for that matter—having existed before the 1950s. Prior to that time, in America as in the rest of the world, mature children simply passed into irresponsible adulthood. But, following an epidemic of ballad-celebrated grad-night auto wrecks, romantic bike crashes, lovelorn beach drownings, sensitive, misunderstood switchblade massacres, and an incident involving a level crossing and a high school ring, America was as jam-packed with Teen Angels as a fifty-cent-beer-and-extra-slice-night at a pizza parlor featuring a free concert by the Rolling Stones.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has already spotted most Teen Angels quite nicely, thank you. A typical Teen Angel, on location in rock’n’rollin’ Encino, California.