I was nineteen and living in a dorm on the campus of St. Louis University. ‘Campus’ is technically correct but is not what you would expect. There’s not a blade of grass in sight. Asphalt campus in the middle of the German section of the city – around Grand Avenue and Lindell. Germans believe you’re old enough to drink beer if you can lift the full mug. My age was no problem, I didn’t even need my fake ID.

On an early Fall Friday evening, I decided to catch up on some sleep and go to bed early. About 9:30, I was jarred awake by loud music blasting out from right under my bed. Our dorm had a full basement common room for recreation. I had forgotten that there was a ‘mixer’ scheduled for that evening. Girls were invited to the dance and a band was hired. Unable to sleep, I dressed and went down to join in.

Jack and I stood together on the boys’ side of the room surveying the girls’ side. He said: “See that girl over there on that chaise lounge with her legs up? I want to ask her to dance but I can’t tell how tall she is.”

Jack was 5’ 3” and sensitive about it. So, I said: “I’ll find out for you.” I approached and asked her for a dance. She rose to her full 4’ 11” and we began dancing. I’m thinking: No guts no glory Jack. You’re out of luck. After learning her name was Doris, I said: “Let’s go and get a brew.”

“Okay. It’s got to beat the awful band. But I have to make a phone call first.”

I waited for less than a minute in the lobby upstairs while she used the pay phone. At the bar, I learned that she grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River in Iowa. She was four years older than me and had worked as a nurse at Mayo Clinic for three years after completing the three-year RN program there. The Mayo brothers awarded her their nurse-of-the-year scholarship to go to college and complete her degree.

She was here with her older sister, Mary, who was also an RN and was studying for a masters. Besides their class work, Doris and Mary had full-time nursing jobs. Doris worked at Barnes Hospital on the 3 to 11 shift. They planned to move with one other roommate to an apartment in easy walking distance from Barnes just off Kings Highway.

We had a couple of beers and were walking her home when I said: “I intend to marry you.”

“What? Are you crazy? That’s nuts! You stay away from me! I don’t want to have anything at all to do with you.”

Back at my dorm, I told Jack and some other guys on my hall about the evening’s events. They all scoffed: “That’s just fairy-tale and Hollywood stuff. That never happens in real life. It’s just infatuation; it won’t last.”

Undeterred, I began to stalk Doris. Two or three times a week I would hop on the Lindell Avenue streetcar up to Barnes Hospital and wait by the exit until Doris came out after her shift. I walked with her to her apartment. At first, this just irritated her. It took about a year before I made my way out of the hole I started in and just got back to even. But Mary took a liking to me. She was five years older than Doris and spoke favorably about me to her. She told Doris I must be honest about her because this was just about the worst strategy I could follow, so why would I lie about it.

Once I got on positive ground with Doris, Mary let me use her car to take Doris on dates. And I finally learned what the phone call was about when I first met Doris. Actually, she was a scout sent by Mary and their girlfriends to check out the mixer dance. Her call was to deliver her scouting report: “Don’t bother to come over to the mixer; the pickings are poor.”

We were married two years after that mixer dance. Doris died two months after our sixty-third wedding anniversary.



My Love then said: “I wove you too”
Her slurred reply to “I love you”
          Old Hermes then laid down his hand
          My call bet showed most all her sand
Had run to lower glass of two.

We met and danced no pas de deux
I said, “Let’s go and get a brew.”
          “It’s got to beat this awful band”
               My Love then said.

On that first night I told her true
“My purpose is to marry you.”
          Began to stalk, was nearly banned
          A two-year trek to wedding band.
“Till Death collecteth what he’s due”
               My Love then said. 


Dean Z. Douthat is a retired engineer residing in a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The format is a Rondeaux after the style of Medieval French poetry. A well-known English example is “In Flanders Field” All lines are iambic tetrameter and all rhymes are masculine.