TROPIC OF CANCER
Elton John had just pushed back from “Hawaii,” the table of honor at Lynn Wyatt’s Tropical Paradise-themed birthday party along the French Riviera, to go to the dessert buffet when his path was blocked by a young New Yorker.
“You’ve got to sing Happy Birthday,” insisted the American Abroad as she tossed her straightened hair.
Elton John rebuffed her with a look — one that said he does not sing for his supper — but she wasn’t budging. She had arrived among Albert of Monaco’s entourage-for-the-night, and this was her big moment with the party’s guest star.
But just then Wyatt popped in between them and steered the singer’s attention toward an elegant woman in white who sat nearby.
“Elton John, Jacqueline de Ribes. Jacqueline de Ribes, Elton John,” Wyatt said to the one and then the other in her vivacious Texas drawl. As they spoke, John leaned in to hear de Ribes, and a look of pleasure spread across his face.
“I guess I have to sing now,” he said before slipping away to consult with the band. How had de Ribes’s French politesse succeeded where American directness had failed?
“I just said, ‘Not only are you talented, you have always been very generous,”‘ confided de Ribes, whose own birthday two days earlier on Bastille Day meant that she and Lynn were both born under the sign of Cancer.
Every head in the crowd — including those of Muck and Corinne Flick, Prince Talal and Princess Ghida of Jordan and Vivienne Duffield’s daughter, Arabella — turned when John emerged with a microphone in hand.
“He’s never done this before,” said Lynn. “Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you,” John crooned with his distinct “Rocket Man” inflections. Nobody dared sing along. “Happy birthday dear GP….”
“GP?” ask a startled Prince Albert.
The birthday girl leaned over, draped her hand across his and purred: “Glaaa-mour Puss.”