From Baseball Cap to Handgun: Story of Joe’s Rebellion

My parents are typical Asian parents.  They are controlling and overbearing.  That I was their oldest–and only–son probably didn’t help much.

I think it’s psychologically healthy for every child to go through a rebellious period against his or her parents (within means, of course), but I fear I missed out on that experience when I had the greatest opportunity.  I sort of went off to college without ever getting the satisfaction of really pissing off my parents.

Not that I didn’t have my moments in high school.

I work crazy hours now, but I had a pretty hectic schedule up to my h.s. junior year.  By then, I was balancing high school, juku and tennis pretty much full-time.  During tennis season, there would be days that I’d leave home for school at 7:30, head to tennis practice after school, then go straight to juku and not get home until 11.  Somewhere in between, I managed to get in tennis lessons, tennis tournaments, homework, test cramming and paper writing.  The most preposterous part of all this was that my parents were paying obscene amount of money educating and training a child with little promise, whose only skill, which wasn’t even redeemable, was that he could recite lines from every James Bond film.

In senior year, I went cold turkey.  Those five days of juku were gone and my tennis commitments reduced to twice a week.  By the second semester, my college applications were in, I was accepted into Boston College and there was no doubt of my graduating from high school.  For the first time since middle school, I went to school to do nothing, had very little to do outside of school and stressed little about life.  I had all the time in the world to do everything and anything.  And I did.  I’d come home from school and watch reruns of sitcoms for hours.  Then I’d go watch soccer games that I wasn’t even interested in and come home at 3.  I had a blast.

But the liberation was far too restrained, came far too late and was far too brief.  I never experienced the exhilaration of throwing beer at a cop at a party and getting arrested.  I was deprived of juvenile delinquency and the consequence was that I eventually developed detachment issues with baseball caps.

My parents considered baseball caps to be one of those uncouth, unclassy and undistinguished traits of American culture that they loathed.  They did not like it when I wore them and made their disapproval rather clear.  I wore it nonetheless with increasing frequency, but I always resented that I had to feel guilty for something so ridiculously trivial as wearing a baseball cap.

College was the great liberator.  Wearing a baseball cap everywhere I went was my first act of rebellion.   The only time I took it off was when I was under a roof.  I wore it when I played tennis.  I wore it with jeans and a polo shirt.  I wore it to a classical concert.  I think I even wore it on the rare occasions I wore a tie.


Because I could and because I wanted to.

It’s been nearly 10 years since I picked up this habit.  My parents have just about given up staring me with that look of disapproval.  This small victory gives me a rather sad sense of satisfaction that I have committed to forever celebrating by wearing a Boston College or New England Patriots cap wherever I go, no matter the age (but circumstances permitting.  I’m told I am now a professional).

But just as marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to cocaine, so was a baseball cap a gateway rebellion that led to a handgun.

The idea for a handgun came randomly during my clerkship nearly two years ago when, at lunch, one of the judge’s staff mentioned that another judges at the courthouse handles all gun permit appeals.  “A gun,” I thought out loud, “what a great idea.”  Later that week, as I was making my weekly jog around the neighborhood, I stopped at the police station to grab an application for a gun permit.  With frightening ease, a month and less than a hundred bucks later, I received a permit to purchase a handgun.  I got one on the day the permit was to expire.

The Springfield XD-9 is my proudest purchase because it is most compulsive purchase.  I was living at home back then but I simply announced that I was going to do this.  I doubt my mom was pleased that there was a handgun under her roof, but she hid her disapproval well.  The gun’s still there, but only because it’s such a bitch to get a permit in New York.  I miss not having the gun, a withdrawal I felt this past weekend when I forgot to bring my cap with me when I went away for the weekend.

I’m addicted to rebellion.

Or rather, want to do it right the first time.

Maybe that’s why I want to be 18 again.


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