I'm not sure if "rose girls" is a Superior/Twin Ports phenomenon or if it extends a little farther out into northern Minnesota or northwest Wisconsin. But the Twin Cities bar scene does not have women who come around selling flowers for patrons to give to their sweethearts. The Cities do on occasion have people, mostly men, who sell such wares at stoplights. So that was the immediate connection I made, and was reminded of a terrific song by crooner Nick Lowe called "Stoplight Roses." That song is all about a lover who knows he's screwed up and decides at the last moment to pick up a rose from the eponymous salesperson in hopes that gesture will smooth things over when he gets home.
Stoplight roses, in their sad array,
Love's promise in cellophane lace, or a dead giveaway,
You'll need time to devise a stylish plan,
And you'll do it driving over to the stoplight roses man.
So whenever I see someone selling these, my mind creates a northern Wisconsin series of events that would cause a guy to buy a bunch of these roses in a panic.
"Oh crap crap crap, I came in for one drink and the guys decided to have a whiskey shot drinking race contest and somehow I lost track of time and missed the piano recital AND the little league game and is it our anniversary? That particular detail is always kinda hazy. This is bad. Think, damnit, THINK! Ok, it was Brett Favre's last game and - no, I used that excuse six times already and I don't think it'll fly again. I was on a winning streak on the electric slot machines - wait, I have way less money than when I came in so that won't work either. The Brewers' game went into extra innings - it's NOT EVEN baseball season so scrap that. Ah-HA, the RERUN of the Brewers' game went into extra...no, not important enough. All right, I got nothin'. Better just go home and apologi--ROSE GIRL saves the day! I'll take one, no, make it a dozen! This is PERFECT, she'll be SO HAPPY!"
I'm pretty sure this is the primary clientele for the rose girls.
On a serious note though, from what I'm told, the women who sell these are often in really tough spots. And so far everyone I've seen doing this has been a woman. The whole system is geared to make it difficult for these women to do well with the sales. The flowers are frequently excess inventory and they don't have much time left looking appealing enough for people to buy, even in the dimness of a Superior bar. The inventory has to be purchased up front, and there's no reimbursement for anything that doesn't sell.
So even though I don't have anyone in particular to bring a rose home to, I find myself occasionally buying one or a few roses because I know it's really helping someone out.
Ooh, that's a good one. I was being chivalrous! I'll keep that excuse handy, if I ever need it. Although the song ends with this sage advice.
And if you believe those same old used-to-be's
will see you through
You'll last about as long as
stoplight roses do.