So the context of this question is as follows: I attended a friend’s art opening a week or so ago. It was a pleasant, low key affair and a few of the people in attendance tangentially were connected via a common arts organization we all volunteer at. This art show was a group show completely disconnected from this arts organization; simply a common group of friends.
Also, no drinking is happening so alcohol cannot be blamed.
As the opening proceeds I run into someone I met at one point—about 1 to 2 years ago—at said arts organization and he introduces himself to me, I introduce myself to him and say:
“I met you a few years ago. I’m not too sure you remember, but we did.”
For some reason he seemed to be excessively offended by me mentioning that and responded.
“Oh, I don’t remember you… But we met a few years ago?”
And I reply:
And he says again:
“Well, I don’t remember you… But you remember me right? I guess you know better than me, right?”
And then this awkward back and forth goes on an on for a few rounds and it feels a bit uncomfortable to aggressive on his part.
The conversation changes, and then this is where it gets weirder.
As the night progresses, no matter what the topic, if we were together he would endlessly say:
“Oh, I met Jake before. In the past I guess. I don’t remember. But he said so.”
This goes on and on so much other people are looking at the other guy quizzically as well. I’m trying to “grin and bear” it, but it’s painful. I didn’t want to confront this guy in the middle of the opening because that would have ruined our friend’s event. And given this guys odd behavior, who knows how bad that could have been.
It even spiraled to the end where I said, “Gotta go! Nice meeting you!” And everyone is nice and polite… Except for “that guy” who is aggressively shaking my hand and repeating:
“Well, it was nice to meet you… But we apparently met before and I don’t remember you from then. But still, goodnight!”
While some of this might seem comical, a lot of the interactions were just straight out passive aggressively weird. Real sense of hostility. No real humor to deliver or intonation. My sense is he knew he was at a sensitive social event and was “testing limits” for his own enjoyment. Other people seemed to sense this as well.
So when all is said and done, could there have been a way to politely get this guy to stop being a jerk at this event?
How would it be possible to stop someone like this without making a scene? Is the solution as simple as a, “Hey… Let’s talk…” followed by leading said person to a quiet place—even outside of the venue—to confront them?
Please note that the fact this happened in the context of an art opening with colleagues from an art organization has little bearing on this behavior. The person in question is not trying to be “witty” or cool but was genuinely aggressive.