You have no idea how hard I work on a daily basis to not to be a dick, or not to be pegged as a dick.

Over the years, I’ve found that no matter what I say, no matter what I do, someone always get offended. It’s not that I go about trying to offend people — at least, not these days. Back in my younger years, I was something of a mischievous button-pusher, trying to see what I could get away with before people finally told me, “Craig, that’s enough!” But, as I’ve gotten older, my urge to be inappropriate has dwindled, especially when I found that people were getting miffed no matter what I said. I’ve found that there are people who can’t wait to be offended. If you say one, wrong thing, they’re gonna hold that over your head until the end of time, refusing to chalk it up as a one-time gaffe or something that doesn’t completely represent who you are.

It’s made me quite leery of saying or doing anything in public, so I barely say or do anything in public. (Sometimes, people get pissed off about that — you just can’t win!) Believe it or not, I can be very timid and quiet in person. It takes me quite a while to warm up to people, as I try to figure out at what point I can cut the bullshit and be myself. I’ve never been much of a talker anyway. Ever since I was young, I always got the sense from my family that nothing I say or do is interesting. And, besides, as I’ve grown up and mingled amongst the folk, I’ve realized that people are more interested in what they have to say than what I have to say. So, I just usually let the other person talk.

You can offend somebody and not even know it. A perfect example of this is when I covered a fashion show in Raleigh years ago. I was at my favorite watering hole, knocking back a couple of snifters of Courvoisier, when my editor emailed me, asking if I wanted to write about a recycled-material fashion show that was happening in the area. “Sure,” I responded. I go over to the event, which is happening at a contemporary arts museum, to meet up with the marketing rep who was handling the event and would show me around. (She also worked in the marketing department for the publication I was writing this piece about.) She introduced me to some designers I interviewed, whose clothing was on display this evening. I also talked to a couple of models — one of them was the marketing rep’s teenage daughter. Before I could talk to her, the rep kept mentioning how her offspring wouldn’t open up. When I got to meet the daughter, she was, of course, shy. So, I told the rep maybe she could leave us both alone so her daughter could talk freely, which she did when her mom left. (Will parents ever learn that teenagers won’t say shit if you’re in the vicinity?) After I was done with talking to her, I literally hopped up on the makeshift runway that the models would be modeling and jumped over to my seat.

When I didn’t see my piece online after I turned it in, I asked my editor what was up. He informed me that the rep went to the paper’s publisher and said how disrespectful I was towards the whole thing. She especially didn’t like when I jumped on the runway to get to my seat. I also discovered the publisher wasn’t feeling me either, since she saw me at a film-festival party not too long before and noticed that I was next to the food table, eating brownies. (I didn’t know anybody there, so I just hovered around the brownies and eventually left.) So, I pissed off two women and didn’t even know it. I’ve got dozens of stories where I’ve accidentally, inadvertently offended people — many of them, for some reason, are ultra-liberal folk in the alt-weekly industry. (You literally have to walk on eggshells when you’re around them, making sure you don’t unnerve them with your craven blackness.)

Sure, making social faux pas is a part of life. I’m sure this is something you’ve done on many an occasion. Hell, Larry David has built a whole show about doing it on a recurring basis. And, yet, I can’t help but feel that I’m constantly singled out for it, and it continues to feed my bitterness and depression. I mean, if there is a chance I’m gonna offend people anyway, what’s the point of being decent and cordial anyway?

My bad luck with social interaction, as well as my lack of steady income, has made me a cranky, frustrated bastard. When I see people happy or having a good time, it drives me up the friggin’ wall. I’ve always believed that everyone was having a better time than me. And even when I find that it’s not true — I’ve met many people, including good friends, who’ve confided that they’ve lived some hard lives — I always come back to the belief that when it comes to whose life is the shittiest, I always take home the gold.

Back in Raleigh, I went to therapy and counseling about this, where they prescribed me pills for me that would hopefully keep me from constantly being down. I even used to attend a weekly group for depressed folk. But ever since I moved back to my hometown of Houston a few months back, a town that I forgot can be unforgiving towards muhfuckas who aren’t movin’ on up in the world just yet, my dickish tendency to see the glass half empty has been popping up here and there.

I wish I could have a positive attitude like so many of you out there, but I’ve been beaten up — figuratively, mentally and literally — for so long, I don’t know what positivity feels like. Nearly everybody in my family is dead, in jail or just out of the picture. I haven’t had a steady job since 2011.The last time I held a woman, people were in the club were dancing to Chingy. I’m 41 years old today, and I currently living in a group home for elderly, mentally-disabled or just plain wacky men. I moved back to Houston to find some job opportunities but, now, I feel like getting the hell out of town (again!) because there is nothing for me here. I try to look on the bright side but, gotdammit — WHAT BRIGHT SIDE?!

I wish I could get my shit together and not let my negative attitude get the best of me, making me look like a dick to anyone who doesn’t know me. I also wish people wouldn’t instantly peg me a dick when they see me, but we can’t have everything we want, can we? I guess I’ll just try to follow the words of Harry Styles (yes, muhfucka, I listen to Harry Styles!): “Just stop your crying, have the time of your life… Remember everything will be alright.”