Monday, May 5, 2014

Still Alive At 111

So what is it like to be pronounced the oldest man on earth?

Alexander Imich, 111 ¼ years old, sat in a chair in his Upper West Side apartment overlooking the Hudson and made a face. Stick-thin with vein-roped hands, bristly whiskers and an enviable shock of hair, he formed a gaunt smile, eyes dancing.

“Not like it’s the Nobel Prize,” he wheezed, pausing for a startled moment when his hearing aid popped out.

Yes, Mr. Imich, a scholar of the occult who was born in Poland on Feb. 4, 1903, is the world’s oldest validated male supercentenarian (those over 110), according to the Gerontology Research Group of Torrance, Calif.

He attained the distinction when the previous record-holder, Arturo Licata of Italy, died on April 24 at 111 years and 357 days. (Sixty-six women officially outdate him; the eldest, Misao Okawa of Japan, is 116, the Gerontology group reports.)

“I didn’t have time yet to think about it,” Mr. Imich said in a halting interview last week as friends came by with a chocolate cake for a belated birthday celebration, delayed by a hospitalization for a fall at home on the very day he turned 111. “I never thought I’d be that old.”

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