The elevator doors slid open. Outside the front doors, a noisy crowd had gathered. What were all those young girls doing, looking inside the lobby of the Palace Hotel? What had happened to our quiet lobby?
I looked at Miss Cynthia. She looked at me. "Perry, what on earth is happening?"
It was the morning we were to leave Madrid. We had packed our suitcases. Miss Cynthia had straightened my bow tie. We were ready! The orchestra tour group would gather in the lobby, climb on the bus, and continue our travel through Spain.
"Is this for the Symphony?" asked Miss Cynthia. Mister Jeremy, a smiling violinist, laughed. "I wish!" he said. "No, there’s a pop group staying here. They’re called ‘N Sync’, and they’re very popular with kids all over the world. Look!" Mister Jeremy pointed to a busy group at the foot of a broad, curving marble staircase.
There were five sleepy-looking young men. One had spiked hair, one had bleached hair, and one had his hair arranged in little braids. They yawned and stretched as they waited at the foot of the stairs.
"Miss Cynthia," I asked, "could I do my fur like that?" I pointed to the musician with spiked hair. "I would be ‘pretty fly’ . . . for a white bear."
Miss Cynthia looked at Mister Jeremy over my head. "Of course not, silly bear," she said. "Where do you get such ideas?"
"Doctor Steve let me watch MTV last night," I admitted.
Miss Cynthia tried to laugh and frown at the same time. "I will have to speak to that Doctor Steve! Little bears have no business watching MTV!" she said. "Now, let’s watch the show."
Two large security men stood near the members of N Sync. A group of young girls tried to approach the band. They had CD cases and photos in their hands. The guards were good-natured, but very strict. "Are you guests at the hotel?" they asked. When the girls said, "No," they were escorted back outside the door.
Look! Two lucky girls came out of the elevator and spoke to the security guards. They were guests at the hotel, and they were about to meet N Sync! Shyly, they presented their CD cases to the members of the band. The girls giggled as each of the musicians added a signature to the CD liner. The girls beamed as they stood in front of the five musicians for a photograph.
Outside, girls and boys were chanting and singing and waving photographs and CD cases. Men with big black television cameras pushed and jostled with the noisy young people. A touring bus with large glass windows pulled to the front door. It was time for N Sync to leave.
"But Miss Cynthia," I asked, "how will they get past all those boys and girls?" "Just watch, Perry!" she answered.
We followed the band down the lobby. Two big, tall men opened the doors. With the help of the hotel’s doormen and staff, they pushed open a small space to the door of the bus. The band members looked at one another. Ready?
As N Sync reached the door, the crowd exploded. Cameras flashed. Hands waved high, reaching over the crowd toward the band. The young people cheered and screamed. N Sync pushed through the mass of excited girls and boys. Hurry! Get into the bus!
In a few moments, it was all over. The bus had pulled away. The girls and boys stood about on the sidewalks for a little while, then returned home to tell their parents about their exciting adventure.
Miss Cynthia turned to Mister Jeremy. "Well, it must be nice," she said.
The San Francisco Symphony is famous, but not as famous as N Sync. When the orchestra travels, people are excited and happy to see us—but they don’t scream and wave CDs at our bus!