Don’t give me too much credit for being a polite, charming man who is loathe to give offence. I am completely self-serving in this endeavor.
I learned as a boy that giving offence only got you a good beating from your parents, smacked by your teacher, rejected by girls, beaten up by boys, and hassled by police. There was no profit in it, so I tried as much as possible to forego the dubious pleasures of giving offence.
To be sure, I often gave offence inadvertently. That’s a harder thing to unlearn. It’s a lot like driving. When driving a car, it is most important not to run the car into things, but the corollary is that one must also avoid placing the car where things can run into it. Master both of these skills and people will think of you as a fine driver.
There’s another aspect to this. I am, for better or worse, a total approval junky. I constantly seek validation and approval wherever I can get it. I think that I have been like this since day one.
All human babies seek approval naturally. They are aware of their helplessness, aware that they desperately need help with every little thing, and for quite a long time too. They grovel abjectly before almost any face that presents itself, smiling, gurgling and squirming as endearingly as possible. Puppies do the same thing, and for the same reason, and this is why people like puppies and babies. Please provide for me, they ask non-verbally, the things that I need, sustenance, affection and comfort, and to be kept clean.
This behavior loses its desperate character for most human babies at some point, because they become more assured of receiving the help that they need. Finally, hopefully, they become able to provide all of those things for themselves. For some of us, though, the assurance never comes, and the desperation remains.
So please, don’t give me too much credit for being a sweet, ingratiating man. I’m probably not as nice as I seem. Actually, I’m not 100% sure myself anymore.