It was strange enough to see Chris Brown mugging with Elton John at the British superstar's traditional Oscar watching party on Sunday night.
And it must have been even stranger for Breezy to be seated among the stars as host Seth MacFarlane made his cutting "date movie" joke at the expense of the 23-year-old singer during the show's opening monologue.
But perhaps even stranger is that Brown picked the John party as place to open up about how he's changed since the incident that has come to define his personal and professional lives in many people's minds: his 2009 assault on Rihanna.
Maybe the multiple news sources that approached Brown for comment caught the singer in a loose-lipped moment when his typically on-guard pose was down. (Strangely, though, none have offered up any video or audio of their talks and Brown's reps have not returned calls for confirmation of the quotes.)
Or maybe the feeling of acceptance among the glitterati merely inspired Brown to open up. Either way, the comments that emerged represent one of the first times the 23-year-old star has given a sense that he's grasped the enormity of that fateful night, or provided insight into his recent reconciliation with Rihanna.
"I've made mistakes and I made, you know, the biggest mistake of all of them on a night," Brown said according to Entertainment Weekly, whose writer described a scene where some other guests, "glowered ... turned away or folded their arms" as Brown passed by them.
"Things got out of hand. I was a kid and I didn't understand things going on in my head. I've grown a lot since then and I know things now I didn't get then. I know some people still talk about it but I'm the one who learned the lesson and I know I'm a different person now."
Rihanna didn't attend the party with on-again beau Brown, but she recently told Rolling Stone in a cover story that she's decided that it was more important for her to be happy than to worry about what people think of their reunion. "He doesn't have the luxury of f---ing up again," she said. "That's just not an option."
Brown confirmed the pair were on good terms, telling the New York Post, "we are really happy ... we are back together. She is the most beautiful girl in the world."
He also reportedly spoke to England's Daily Mirror, calling the 2009 assault the "deepest regret" of his life, adding, "but she loves me -- what can I say? I'm forgiven ... but, yes, I worked hard for it." He added that he's grown up a lot since that night. "I was very young," he said. "And I took a lot of stuff, fame, for granted."
As for how Brown — who recently scuffled with singer Frank Ocean in an incident in which someone in Brown's crew reportedly used a homophobic slur against the Odd Future crooner — ended up at the AIDS-benefit party thrown by the openly gay John, Brown said he was personally invited by Elton. "I met Elton about a year ago," he told the Post. "And he's been a good friend to me."
John, you might recall, famously embraced Eminem after the rapper was criticized for his homophobic lyrics at the beginning of the millennium. He also helped Slim Shady make it through a nearly fatal drug addiction years after the two performed together at the 2001 Grammy Awards.
The flamboyant British piano man seems to have done the same with Brown, taking the sometimes unpredictable singer under his wing, mugging in pictures with him at the party and, perhaps, offering him some advice on how to survive the glare of the media.
"I remember what Elton did that time," Brown said of the unforgettable Elton/Eminem Grammy moment. "I think he does what he thinks is right and finding the positive while a lot of other people focus on the negative. A lot of people say one thing but, you know, they don't let things go, either."
At one point, EW reported that John chaperoned Brown over to a high-roller table anchored by Bono, Steven Tyler, Quincy Jones and Jim Carrey.
"It was an honor for him to personally invite me and it's a blessing to be here," said Brown. "This is a great event to raise money and awareness about AIDS [promotes the message that] people with HIV are people too, there shouldn't be discrimination against them or any discrepancy or any fear about being around them. At the end of the day, I'm not homophobic in any way and I don't focus on the negative that people bring to it."