When Joye Jackson and Tony Smith met on a balmy spring day in 1982, Joye was 14 years old and considered herself a "player" -- her term for someone who secretly has several boyfriends. She was then, as she is now, conscious of her appearance. She wore clothes that showed off her slim body and she frequently experimented with elaborate hair styles.
To Joye, dating was a game and boys were something to be conquered; she said she couldn't wait to have her first sexual experience so she could brag about her exploits to her girlfriends. She wasn't interested in long-term relationships or in getting pregnant.
"I was one of those girls who said I don't want none of those brats," she said, her voice taking on a hard edge. She was mostly interested in maintaining her popularity, dressing stylishly and keeping up her image as a player. She expected her boyfriends to give her money, jewelry and clothing.
Tony Smith also considered himself to be a player. He was 15, a ninth grader at a junior high school in Suitland, and had been sexually active since he was 13. On that spring afternoon in 1982, he and his older brother took their stepfather's black Fleetwood Cadillac and drove over to the Tolliver Court apartments in Capitol Heights, where Joye was living at the time. Tony said they planned to smoke marijuana and do some girl-watching.
As they sat in the car, Joye stood in front of her apartment building, talking to a boy whom Tony assumed to be her boyfriend. Tony said he was immediately attracted to her. She was wearing tight jeans that showed off her "popeye" legs, slang for a girl who has slim thighs and muscular calves, a feature that some Anacostia teen-agers say they find appealing.
The conversation between Joye and the boy ended, and Tony shouted to Joye. He was not prepared for what happened next. Joye hurried over to the car and slipped him a piece of paper with her phone number on it, then ran back to the front of her building. That night, he called her, and after hours of conversation, they decided to get together.
From the outset, their relationship was a conscious game of trying to control and outdo each other. If Joye saw other boys, Tony started seeing other girls. If Joye showed up with a "passion mark" on her neck, Tony got one on his.
Joye said, "I was boy crazy. Can't have one, take them all . . . . I ain't care if their heart was broken or nothing. I used to be over at Tony's house and call somebody to pick me up."
Tony said, "She was trying to play a lot of boys and I was trying to play a lot of girls. Joye was more or less a challenge. Trying to get her to stop messing with all these boys. I was trying to slow her down 'cause she was as fast as I was. " Maintaining an Image
On Oct. 30, 1984, Joye appeared before Mayor Barry's Commission on Teenage Pregnancy and talked about how she became pregnant. As 800 classmates listened and several television news cameras recorded her testimony, she described her first pregnancy as a mistake of passion.
"The first time I laid down I got pregnant," she told them. " He didn't have to say he loved me to make me have sex with him. It just happened. If passion hit you, you're gonna do it."
Many months later, after a series of lengthy interviews, it became clear that passion was not the first thing on her mind when she and Tony made love. She said she wanted to conquer him, to overwhelm him. Even as she and Tony made love, she said, "I was thinking about 'Let's get this over with so I can go brag about it.' And when I bragged about it, I bragged."
Immediately after Tony left that day in May 1982 -- they had known each other only a few weeks -- she got on the telephone and called her best girlfriend. "I drowned him," she said, using the term that she had heard other girls use in describing their sexual conquests.
She said the same thing to Tony. "She said she drowned me, right? I was like, 'How do you figure you did that?' She know better than that. I don't know what she was trying to prove," he said.
Joye did not tell Tony it was her first time. "No, I had an image to hold," she said. "I told him I was experienced. I was a player. I was raw! I was awesome! Had to hold my image. Let him know he was messing with fire!"
Neither one of them worried about contraception. Tony said he assumed Joye was taking birth control pills; Joye said she just didn't think about it. Six months later, her mother confronted her, suspecting that she was pregnant. A medical examination proved her right.
By this time, she was seeing Tony infrequently and spending much of her time with a 19-year-old man. At first, she said, she told Tony that this other man was the father. Tony, who had counted the months, felt sure he was the father.
Just before the baby was due, Joye said, she finally told Tony the truth. They began to see each other again. "Tony started getting closer to me," Joye said. "That's when he starts telling me he love me and all this and that. He was going to see me through the baby, make sure everything all right."
Their first daughter, Taisha Tamar Jackson, was born Jan. 9, 1983. Over the next few months, Joye and Tony continued to see each other. To prevent another pregnancy, Joye said, she decided in April to take birth control pills. But she apparently starting taking them too late; she learned in mid-May that she was one month pregnant.
Throughout her second pregnancy, Joye said, she was "booking boys," her phrase for lining up frequent dates. Meanwhile, her relationship with Tony foundered. Then, after their second daughter, Rochelle Nicole Jackson, was born Jan. 8, 1984, they began talking seriously about marriage. Joye was reluctant. "I didn't want to be held down," she said. "Too many cuties out there to be held down to one boy."
For the next year they went through hard times. Both managed to stay in school, Joye at Ballou and Tony at Croom Vocational High School in Upper Marlboro. For Joye, staying in school was possible only because her grandmother and other family members had agreed to take care of Taisha and Rochelle.
Throughout this period, Tony and Joye were constantly breaking up and getting back together. Sometimes they argued with words, sometimes by hitting each other, they said. Somehow, the relationship survived. Finally, in February 1985, they decided to get married.
On June 8, 1985, nearly three years after they met, Joye Jackson, 17, and Anthony Smith, 18, were married in a church ceremony. Sitting in the front pews were their families and their two children, 2 1/2-year-old Taisha and 18-month-old Rochelle. Epilogue
After their marriage, Joye and Tony moved with their two daughters to an apartment in Capitol Heights, where they still live. Tony has been working at a clothing and furniture store and Joye has been attending night school at Spingarn High School, studying for a high school diploma.
Their plans revolve around Joye graduating from high school and, possibly, going on to college. In the meantime, Tony said he will continue to work. If they can, they want to save money so they can buy a house in five or six years.
Tony said during an interview at their apartment last week that they had children too early. "There's a lot of things I think I'd rather have done first ," he said.
Joye, who had not wanted children at all, said she would try to prevent her daughters from becoming teen-age mothers. "I'ma be a strict parent," she said