the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Sweet Smell of Honeysuckle

I’m a Grinch.  A Scrooge.  An Oscar the Grouch.   At least online I am.   I embrace sarcasm about the Internet out of self-protection.  You need to accept me as I am.  I am petty, passive aggressive, hoping to rip down the entire facade of our “community” and show you the emperor’s nakedness. I do not build up.  I destroy.  I don’t inspire others. I throw the wood into the flames.  If you hate drama, run.  If you think it is easy being a Grouch, it isn’t. There are always naive people trying to wear you down, as determined as Jehovah’s Witnesses wanting you to see the light.

Last night, I was reading Kim’s blog, Kimperative.   She was doing a meme.  One of the questions was this:

Q: Name one scent that brings back a very pleasant memory from your past.

Her answer:

A: Honeysuckle. It reminds me of walking with my grandmother over the hill on hot days, and nectar on my tongue.

I tried to visualize honeysuckle, and my mind went as blank as a white wall.  The smell of honeysuckler — nothing.  The taste of honeysuckle — nada.

I wrote this comment on Kim’s post:

To be honest, I’m not even sure I know the scent of honeysuckle, and it is extremely frustrating right now because you can’t just search for a smell on Google.

Do you notice how I manipulated Kim’s post into a discussion about myself?   That’s because I am a self-absorbed jerk.  And like it that way.

But did I stop there? Of course not!   I saw this honeysuckle issue as a way to send a “f**k you” to anyone who ever said that online life was “real.”

My status update on Facebook:

I’m reading a blogging friend write about her strong memory of smelling honeysuckle at her grandfather’s house, and I don’t think I ever smelled honeysuckle. And I’m realizing one of the biggest limitations of online life — you can’t search for the smell of honeysuckle on Google.

The update may not sound controversial, but the intent was evil.   I wanted to pull the rug out from everyone’s happiness.   The underlying message:  Sure, we can use writing, photos, and videos online, but we will NEVER be able to touch, taste, or smell another person online, and those are the SEXIEST senses of them all !  Who wants to live like a robot, just interacting with data?  Our entire experience is FAKE!

The best part of this argument was that there was no way to refute it.  I had won.  I destroyed the internet.  I brought up the fundamental fact that no one else would discuss:  We could never discover the smell of honeysuckle online.  We were eunuchs online, half-men and half-women, never to find true happiness.

Being a believer in science, I did some experimenting with Google just to prove my point.

I searched “honeysuckle.”

I found photos.   A nature video.

I found a quote from Shakespeare’s A Midsummers Night Dream” —

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist. The female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
Oh, how I love thee! How I dote on thee!

I found the lyrics to the classic Fats Waller tune, Honeysuckle Rose —

Every honey bee fills with jealousy,
when they see you out with me.
Goodness knows
You’re my honeysuckle rose

When you’re passin’ by flowers droop and sigh,
and I know the reason why.
Goodness knows
You’re my honeysuckle rose

Google was useless.   It was as if a billion dollar operation had suddenly fallen on her knees, like a once mighty statue turned to dust.    There was no finding the smell of honeysuckle.

My Facebook status update said it all.  It was so powerful in content, my blogging friends were running scared, as if this was the final day prophesized by the Mayan calendar.  My friends turned desperate, taking frantic stabs at proving to me that the internet COULD show me the smell of honeysuckle.

But I just LAUGHED at your petty attempts.

From Kendra —

I find it nice for about 1.3 seconds then it’s too sweet and perfum-y. Very strong, very distinctive.

From Wendy —

Honeysuckle is kind of a slightly lemony smell, but sweet. Like a sweet lemon pie. If smell had a shape/feel, it would be like one of those squishy nubby balls. It’s soft and round, but with some bright points. If it was a color, it would be electric blue with yellow whorls.

From Marla —

Right now ( and every year around this time) the air outside of my home smells like melted butter and sugar. It is the most amazing thing…stars, dandelion poofs and sweet butter. Yummy.

From Suzanne —

I grew up with honeysuckle in my backyard. I was at Huntington Gardens about a week ago and as soon as I smelled it I flashed back to the house I grew up in. Scent can evoke so many memories …!!

From Sarah —

I used to smell the honeysuckle when I’d run behind VMI in college. it was a big realization to me — that I was smelling honeysuckle — and it was a paradigm shift, from my lilac-scented NW upbringing to this subtler but more seductive fragrance of the south.

From Kristen —

There’s this incredible honeysuckle bush that I’ve been meaning to shoot a photo of…

Have you ever read anything more pathetic than these Facebook comments?   Like trying to tell an atheist that he should pray to God.

The INTERNET WAS USELESS.  It was limited.  It was created for self-promotion, information-overload, and porn.  It could never be REAL.  It could never produce the scent of honeysuckle.

And then Wendy, a blogger at Notes From the Sleep Deprived, spoke up, in a voice not unlike that of Little Cindy Lou Who, the littlest Who in Whoville, transforming the Grinch forever.

Wendy —

HEY!!! I can mail you some in a ziploc. I’m not positive it would work, but everyone should enjoy the smell of honeysuckle.


My reign of terror was over.   Like King Kong at the end of the movie, I fell off the empire State Building, defeated by a momblogger from South Carolina.

“Case closed,” said Wendy,  “And f**k you, Neil — you can discover the scent of honeysuckle through the Internet.”

For the last few days, my social media stream has been overloaded by messages from one of those blogging conventions that seem to happen every other month nowadays.    There were constant tweets and updates about influence, sponsorship, and inspiration.   But no one at this conference was really paying attention to what was actually occurring ONLINE. Wendy from South Carolina had just singlehandedly saved the Internet from utter destruction.   Not only for me, but for all of us.    Because of her, we now know — as a fact — that you CAN use the Internet to do anything, even smell the scent of honeysuckle.

Which means it IS REAL.


  1. angela ( angfromthedock )

    um…that was funny.
    and now i have to find a friend to send me honey suckle, because i have never smelled it either.
    but i never doubted the internet could fix that for me.

    • Neil

      I’ll send it to you afterwards.

  2. snozma


  3. snozma

    That was supposed to be the sound of an evil villain falling.

  4. Fran

    I have smelled and tasted honeysuckle, but at this exact instance in time, I can recall neither sensation. Sad. But! What inspires me as that the internet has come through for us all, once again! Not Google, but social media. Human connections. Love. One soul reaching out to another, addressing a need. Quieting, soothing, stroking into peaceful submission a heart that was aching. Thank you, Neil, for articulating your need. And Wendy, for responding.

  5. Headless Mom

    See? You could, and did! make it into a great post. 😉

  6. amiee

    I am never ever disappointed when I click thru and read here. This post makes me want to hug you.

  7. Twenty Four At Heart

    Or you could meet me for a photo day at Huntington Gardens and I’ll point the blooming honeysuckle out to you. And then I might hold your face in it for a full five minutes so you never accuse me of being a “not real” Internet friend again.

  8. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    Hey! Who is Sarah? I want to know. I used to run behind VMI too.

    Honeysuckle reminds me of two things: first love and running down the long winding roads of my teen years with honeysuckle covering the barbed wire fences.

    It started blooming in April this year, really early for my section of Virginia. I love the way the scent of it takes me back…

  9. Dana

    I don’t know, I think Wendy did a fairly fantastic job of bringing the smell to life:
    “It’s soft and round, but with some bright points. If it was a color, it would be electric blue with yellow whorls.”
    I’ll be thinking about this the next time I walk past a vine.

  10. Heather

    But is there some sort of scent that reminds you of home? Or of a great place in your life when you had no worries or cares and you just knew life was going to be taken care of?

    My grandmother’s house always smelled of coffee—when she’s see us coming, she’d put on a fresh pot. That gives me comfort…in some weird way.

  11. Jen

    I agree with Dana. I think Wendy did an amazing job of describing it. But, I understand what you mean about feeling the power of the Grinch and then getting knocked down. I’m glad she saved the Internet. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have this wonderful place to complain about everything.

  12. Leesepea

    Or you could just be grateful, like those of us riddled with allergies for whom the scent of honeysuckle brings not memories but itchy, watery eyes and sneezing fits, that the Internet is not of the scratch & sniff variety. Not to mention the myriad of awful smelling things one might need to research online.

  13. magpie

    Mmm, honeysuckle. Did you know you could actually suck the nectar out of the bottom of the blossom?

  14. MidLyfeMama

    I must be very niave, because I didn’t know you were trying to destroy the universe when you posted that. Thank you Wendy for being our Luke Skywalker.

    As for honeysuckle, to me, it smells sweet for about a nanosecond, then all I smell is skunk. My neighbor has it growing over the fence, so I find it disconcerting, wondering if my dogs are going to be sprayed or if it is just that damned flower.

  15. Tuck

    And if you’ve never smelled honeysuckle, how will you know if it’s the real McCoy (vs let’s say…Azalea)? I’m thinking honeySUCKER. 🙂

    So, real or not real?

  16. sarah gilbert

    now V-grrrl and I are friends. Neil: your destructive mission has been forever subverted!

  17. Joanna Ciolek

    I really liked where you were going with this; I’m often a cynic and a sarcastic grouch myself. Unfortunately, there’s always people like Wendy, true believers who will go out of their way to try and make a world a better place. Ghrr.

  18. the muskrat

    The internet is just a tool. It can be used for good or bad like other tools.

  19. Katebits

    Good one. I was with you all the way- first with your total destruction of the interwebs, and then with your transformation at the hands of Cindy Lou Who. I guess the Internet is real. Weird.

  20. Megan

    That’s it Wendy, don’t let the cynics win.

  21. Marta

    Clearly we need to start some sort of linky were you can request to have this “honeysuckle” sent to you because I too have no idea what it smells like. There are lots of smells I’m unfamiliar with. You have made me question my sense of smell!

  22. Summer

    Back in the olden days, when we had message board communities, we would pair up and send care packages to each other-on holidays or sad days or just swapping out pieces of our lives.

  23. K A B L O O E Y

    Wait a minute. Wendy Lou Who happened to reach out via internet, but you are still not smelling the honeysuckle via said internet. Ergo, you can stay cynical (or self-protectively pseudocynical, like me) so even if you get hurt, people won’t know. So it won’t feel as bad, but then it hurts worse because no one offers comfort. Ah, we cynics kinda bring it on ourselves, don’t we? btw: which way does the causal link between cynicism and city kid go? Or maybe they’re both symptoms and the smell of honeysuckle the immunizer. Because I don’t know what it smells like either.

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