Doug Foster couldn’t know that a hot dog craving — coupled with a fender bender — would lead to a reunion with the love of his life.
It was early April 2012 and Doug, hankering for “one of those dirty dogs off of the roach coach” (a half-smoke from a food truck), left his office in Washington on a mission. But while parking across the street from the vendor, he bumped into a man’s truck.
No one was hurt and both vehicles were unscathed, but the two exchanged business cards before parting ways. Doug thought that would be the end of it. Lucky for him, it wasn’t.
Later that day, the man griped about the incident and mentioned Doug’s name to a friend, Bernadeen “Bernie” Hoard. Turns out, Bernie happened to be the sister of Doug’s girlfriend from 33 years earlier, Iris Hoard.
Bernie immediately recognized his name, got his number and encouraged her sister to call him and reconnect.
Several days after the accident, at Bernie’s insistence, she and Iris placed a three-way call to Doug. As soon as Iris heard his voice, she felt flutters. “He had never left my mind, after all of those years,” says Iris, now 58 and retired.
Doug felt the same way. “I couldn’t believe it. After all of this time, I was talking to Iris. The Iris. My Iris,” says Doug, now 74 and the owner of a consulting firm. “I was shocked and weak at the knees!”
Their story dates to the disco era — 1979. Doug, then 36, was friend of Bernie’s and a manager of several clubs in the District, including the Black Tahiti and the Black Crystal. Often times, Iris, then 21, and her sister would call him up in the wee hours of the morning, after a night of doing the hustle, to grill them up some late-night eats.
He would always take the call, even after a late night of work. “They’d say, ‘We are hungry. Can you fix us breakfast?’ ” recalls Doug, laughing. “I’d say, ‘Fine. Come on over.’ ”
“We would always come back for more, so evidently it was tasty,” Bernie quips.
Iris and Doug, both D.C. natives, developed an easy rapport and bonded quickly, despite their age difference. They shared similar interests and challenges — both were raising young children and had recently suffered heartbreak (Iris had broken up with her son’s father, and Doug was recently divorced from his first wife.)
After several visits, Doug mustered up the courage to ask Iris out on a date to the Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace Restaurant. “Back then, it was extremely elegant, like old Hollywood,” Doug says. “She fit in perfectly.”
Iris recalls being blown away by Doug’s charm, style and character. “He just has a very kind heart, had good spirits and a nice personality and smile,” she says.
Most mornings, Doug would pick Iris up in his red-and-white 1980 Cadillac Seville, dressed in a suit, and drive her to work. Her son, Jerome, used to say Doug’s look reminded him of the character Sweet Daddy Williams from the show “Good Times.”
A relationship quickly developed, but, despite their initial chemistry, they drifted apart after a year. Neither can distinctly remember the breakup or what specifically caused it.
“There were no fights, no disagreements, no anything,” Iris says. “For whatever reason, it just fizzled.” She speculates that their age difference may have been a factor. “I think I didn’t know back then what true love was, really,” she says. “I had to experience life to understand and appreciate” it.
They made a clean break and remained out of touch. As time passed, both moved on: Iris had a serious relationship; Doug remarried and later divorced in 2007. They never once ran into each other on the Metro, at the supermarket or about town, despite living less than 10 minutes from each other for some time.
That is, until Doug’s fender-bender in 2012.
After reconnecting, they took things slowly, starting off as just friends, and worked on rebuilding trust. Hour-long phone calls, before and after work, grew into regular home visits.
The more time they spent together, the more their confidence in a potential relationship grew. They realized they still loved each other and developed a new level of commitment. “I kept thinking, ‘This is it. This is destiny,’ ” says Iris, who kept expecting the butterflies to settle at some point, but they never did. “He’s a romantic,” she adds. “He sends me flowers and takes me out to dinner for no particular reason, just because.”
In July 2013, Doug moved into Iris’s Rhode Island Avenue home.
“I never stop having fun with Iris,” he says. “I love everything about her. . . . We can be in a room with thousands of people and act like there is nobody else there with us.”
On Sept. 14, 2015, while watching “Dancing With the Stars,” Doug grabbed Iris’s hand and surprised her with a proposal. She giddily accepted.
“Friends and family kept coaching us and pushing us to get married, but it had to be our time,” Iris says, “and nobody else’s.”
On April 29, Iris and Doug exchanged vows at the D.C. Superior Court building. The bride carried a small bouquet of purple irises and wore a matching lavender sash around her waist. The groom wore a white suit and matching feathered hat. Their guests smiled and cheered as the couple sealed the ceremony with several kisses. “He messed my lipstick up!” Iris joked.
Later celebrations included a family dinner at National Harbor’s Gaylord hotel and a reception with 120 guests at the VIP Room, a social club in Northwest Washington. For their first dance, the couple swayed to Eric Benet and Tamia’s “Spend My Life With You.”
“There’s never a good time or a bad time — there’s just time, and you have to grab it,” Doug says. “I let 33 years get away from me. We don’t have another 33.”
Iris added, smiling: “We look forward to making up for lost time.”
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