About ten years ago, Ray Bradbury was at my favorite Pasadena bookstore, Vroman's, for a book signing. As we stood in line, they passed out Post-Its on which we were supposed to write down how you wanted him to inscribe each book -- you know, "To Billy" or "For Wilma with best wishes" or whatever.
Now, my reaction was, you mean you're telling me that I can get Ray Bradbury to sign my copy of Fahrenheit 451 however I want?! I briefly considered "IOU $20. Ray Bradbury." But then I thought of something even better. On my Post-It, I wrote, "To my very best friend in the whole wide world."
The woman handing books to Ray saw my Post-It and laughed, and gave it to Ray. He read it, laughed, and then looked at me narrowly. "Do I know you?" he asked. I said something like, "Get to know me, and it'll be true!" He laughed again.
"You know," he said, "when I was fourteen years old, I asked the great actress Marlene Dietrich to sign a photo of herself for me, and she signed it, grandly, 'To my old pal, Ray!' I still have it as a treasured possession."
Then Ray Bradbury signed my copy of Fahrenheit 451: "To my old pal, Scott! Ray Bradbury."
I still have it as a treasured possession.
(And now I'm passing this tradition along. A couple of times recently, at public speaking events, people have asked me to autograph something. I tell them the above story and then sign "To my old pal, (Whatever)!" Fittingly, the first of these was a woman who wanted me to sign her copy of The Martian Chronicles. When I opened it, I found that it had already been signed -- by Ray Bradbury. I demurred, but she insisted. So I added my signature to his.)