This Oldest Man In The World

A week or so ago there was an article in The Times about a man living on the Upper West Side who is thought to be the oldest man alive. Alexander Imich, a Polish Jew who somehow survived the Nazi invasion and emigrated to America after the war, is a few months past his 111th birthday.

Hey. . .I think I have that shirt!

Hey. . .I think I have that shirt!

When you think about it, it’s an odd title to have; the only way to accede to it is to have the guy who’s ahead of you kick the bucket: which indeed, is what happened when Arturo Licata of Italy, died on April 24 at 111 years and 357 days.  The quintessential “good news, bad news” story.  While we’re on the subject, it would be interesting to find out about the guy who has now moved into second place and see what he’s thinking.  If I were he, I wouldn’t be getting too excited.  Mr. Imich seems to be in decent shape (for 111) and appears to have all his marbles as evidenced by his reaction to all the attention he was getting for his new-found status. “Not like it’s the Nobel Prize”, was what he said.

There were some fun facts in the article, one of which is that there are 66 woman alive who are older than Mr. Imich.  Or put another way  — of the 67 oldest people on the face of the earth, 66 are women.  For some reason (probably not a healthy one), I’m intrigued by that statistic and it’s been a subject I’ve tackled in other blogs posts.  Ever the social scientist, I started discussing with Yduj what could account for such a huge discrepancy in the number of very old men and women. We batted about some ideas and then I playfully suggested that a possible explanation for that remarkable statistic is that most likely, none of those 66 women had ever been married to a woman.

Yduj didn’t find that as funny as I did.  She said that my so-called “joke” suggested an unexpressed anger towards women.  And probably a repressed fear of them, as well.  And a bunch of other stuff that isn’t so attractive.  As this was going on, the strangest thing happened.  Yduj started looking younger and younger to me while at the same time I began to sense a shortening of my life span. Weird.

One of the unforeseen advantages of being the “oldest” anything is that, unlike most records, there’s no way anyone can surpass you.  One might be the tallest, biggest or have the most of anything and there’s always a possibility that someone will come along and outdo you.  But, for Mr. Imich, it’s a surety that he’ll never lose his title . . . certainly, not in his lifetime.

Thankfully, Mr. Imich didn’t cite any of those “cute” recipes for living to an old age that often show up in these kind of stories. No mention of “starting each day with a cup of Elderberry wine” or “always sitting with his legs uncrossed”.  Usually, I never much care for those bromides. But I wouldn’t have much minded if he had attributed his longevity to a regimen of watching too much TV, not reading enough, preferring vodka to gin and mostly, to spending years writing a very self-referential blog.

Note: Volume V is now available as an e-book for your tablet.

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