Yes, It Really Does Smell That Bad

Four times before, we had tried to catch a blooming corpse flower in all its olfactoral glory and four times we had failed.

The corpse flower’s famed smell has an actual ‘lifespan’ of just a few hours. Sure, you can catch a whiff of it and we thought that we had a good idea, but when we went back to the U.S. Botanic Gardens at 9 pm that fateful night, we discovered how wrong we were.

The scent comes in waves, with plant emitting the odor in, for lack of a better word, pulses of stench.

We entered during a lull in the pulsation, but then it crept up and finally, I found myself gagging and almost vomiting. I left and came back several times, but once the gag impulse in me had been activated, it was hard to stay in the room with it during the high tide moments.

The scent is designed to attract carrion feeders, but my experience with the smell rotting flesh is limited to bad meat and roadkill rodentia, so I can’t properly describe in those terms and be certain of my accuracy.

The dirty diapers of an infant fed a diet of undercooked pork chili and fish sauce, perhaps.

Something like rotting gym clothes kept in a locker for a at least a decade and then, somehow, amplified even more.

Maybe a super durian that had been crossbred with a swamp rat, shot, and then left for dead, but didn’t die, but rather suffered painfully from the combined ravages of advanced syphilis and necrotic bacteria.

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