World’s Oldest Man Dies (Again)

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Now, I don’t mean to suggest by that title that the World’s Oldest Man has the feline quality of multiple lives or that he had somehow managed to resurrect himself and then die again, I just mean that, well, this is the second time in two months that the World’s Oldest Man has died.

Henry Allingham, who passed away Saturday at the age of 113, attributed his longevity to “cigarettes, whiskey, and wild, wild women.” I’m not making this up. (If I was making this up, I would have added cheesesteaks and ranch dressing, which is a great illustration of how I’m less funny than real life.)

But he’s only been the World’s Oldest Man for a month. Which makes sense: as a child, when I thought about the World’s Oldest People, for some reason I imagined that they’d held these distinctions for life, but now it’s obvious that there is only a very short window of time during which you can be the World’s Oldest Person, because you were the World’s Second Oldest Person until a few weeks before, when the Oldest One finally keeled over.

The Oldest Living Man is now Walter Breuning, who is 112 years old and an American. (Suck it, Brits!) The Oldest Living Woman (and Overall Champion) is Gertrude Baines, 115-years old and also an American. (Double suck it!)

It should be pointed out that of the Top Ten Oldest Living People, none of them are men. Walter’s only the 15th oldest person ever. Hey, I’m not trying to knock the guy: he’s probably lived longer than I will, but I just want to set the record straight. Anybody who jokes about the WNBA not being serious competition can’t complain when I say that the World’s Oldest Man is a title of questionable merit, especially because of the ambiguity of the word “man,” where some people use it to mean “human beings in general.”

When Walter dies, the World’s Oldest Living Man will be Jiroemon Kimura

When Gertrude dies, the World’s Oldest Living Woman will be Kama Chinen, who doesn’t have a page on Wikipedia, which is where, as always, I got most of my information for this blog. It is, truly, the world’s greatest repository of human knowledge: before Wikipedia, how would I have ever found an up-to-date list of the world’s oldest people?

We are certainly living in exciting times.


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