An article entitled World’s Oldest Man, Though Only Briefly, Dies at 111 in New York” in The New York Times carrying June 9, 2014 and Ralph Blumenthal as the dateline and byline respectively caught my fancy and I read through the piece.
The man, Alexander Imich died on June 8th and he held the crown of being the world’s oldest man for an all too brief period of 45 days; 0.11% of his lifetime. Hence, I believe, the “…Though Only Briefly…” in the title. Yes, Imich lived all of 111 years and a couple of months only to hold on to the title of the world’s oldest man since April 24th this year, since his predecessor oldest man died! That kind of made me pity Imich.
But perhaps I have more people to pity on similar scores. Prince Charles heads the list of such obviously pitiables, since birth a prince and not to wear the crown yet!
But that was a slight digression. What I wanted to argue is here that the World’s Oldest Man can never be dead. Of course, the man who holds the title, even if only ever so briefly, can be dead, but the World’s Oldest Man – note the italics and upper case – can never die. Catch the obvious nuance (an oxymoron).
The argument is simple: the title changes hands seamlessly. The moment Imich’s predecessor, Arturo Licata died, Imich became the world’s oldest man. Even the crown of a kingdom does not transfer so smoothly. Therefore I take issue with the title. The World’s Oldest Man can never die, only transfer the title.
The title would have been better as, “The World’s Oldest Man Changed Hands/Bodies.”
I hope you will agree with me.