Fragments From 'Oldest! The Musical'

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dec. 12, 2006 (AP) -- Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden, recognized as the world's oldest person, died Monday in a Memphis nursing home, the home's administrator said. She was 116. Emiliano Mercado del Toro, 115, of Puerto Rico is now expected to assume the title of world's oldest person, said a Guinness researcher.

Emiliano Mercado del Toro:

They call me El Viejo

Because I'm very old

I hail from another time

When the winters still were cold

When I was born, the distant past

Hadn't yet occurred

We had no running water

We had no written word

(A Guinness researcher flies to Puerto Rico to certify del Toro as the world's oldest person.)

Guinness man:

This rolled-up paper, when unfurled

Proves you're the oldest in the world

(The Guinness man pins a ribbon on Del Toro's chest.)

Del Toro:

We had no Web, no Super Bowl,

No Nintendo Wii

I tell you, I go back so far

That I'm in front of me

A century's an insult!

One-10 is a joke

If my age was a temperature, the ground beneath my feet would smoke!

And . . .

(Del Toro clears his throat to hit a high note but dies instead.)

* * *

Jan. 25, 2007 (AP) -- Emiliano Mercado del Toro was born when Puerto Rico was still a Spanish colony, and he trained as a soldier the year World War I ended. On Wednesday, having spent just a month as the world's oldest person, he died at his home on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. He was 115.

Guinness man:

I certify this brave old man

As a brave old man who's dead

The oldest living person

Is now someone else instead

* * *

Jan. 25, 2007 (Reuters) -- A Connecticut woman born to former slaves in the decades following the Civil War has become the world's oldest person, at 114, according to Guinness World Records. Emma Faust Tillman, born near Greensboro, N.C., on Nov. 22, 1892, became the world's oldest person on Wednesday, following the death of Emiliano Mercado del Toro, 115, of Puerto Rico.

Guinness man:

Let's go, let's go!

Let's start the plane Connecticut awaits!

We're doing battle with some

Serious attrition rates

(Guinness man arrives in Connecticut, rushes to meet with Emma Faust Tillman, and reads a proclamation declaring her the world's oldest person.)

Emma Faust Tillman:

I'm so pleased that I made it

How I've waited for this day

Now if you will all attend

I have something to say

(She has nothing to say.)

* * *

Jan. 29, 2007 (AP) -- Emma Faust Tillman, who was born to former slaves and lived to see 21 American presidencies, died at a nursing home just four days after becoming the world's oldest-known living person. She was 114.

Guinness man:

This is just unbelievable

I almost feel cursed

I should trade my jet plane

For a flying hearse

Now I must find another

World's Oldest Man

Or Woman. To the plane again?

A tip came in to try Japan

* * *

Jan. 29, 2007 (AP) -- Yone Minagawa, 114 years old and believed to be the world's oldest living person, has lived through four Japanese emperors, according to the staff at her nursing home in southern Japan. Born Jan. 4, 1893, Minagawa was identified as the world's oldest person by the Guinness Book of World Records following the death Sunday of Emma Faust Tillman, also 114.

Yone Minagawa:

The year was 1893 when I was born. That wasn't all

The diesel engine was born, too. The light bulb. College basketball.

They say I should be happy

But I fear that all's not right

They say old age should be enjoyed

But it just makes me paranoid

(The Guinness man arrives.)

Guinness man:

You're spry for an oldster

You're sharp as a tack

Sit down so I can give you

This certificate and plaque

(Minagawa bows. Guinness man takes off his costume. He is Death.)

Death:

Nice to meet you, Minagawa

We have some business, you and I

For my part, I will touch your shoulder

For your part, you will die

I'd like to thank the Guinness Book

For keeping me supplied

With ancient human specimens

To carry to the other side

(Minagawa takes off running at high speed.)

Minagawa:

You can't catch me

You can't catch me

I'll run to my reward

Just when you think

You're closing in

I'll turn around and look! A sword!

(Minagawa turns. She is holding a giant sword. Death gasps. She cuts him, first with a YM, like Zorro might, and then into pieces. Minagawa stands over Death.)

Minagawa:

It is no small achievement to reach this advanced age

I'm not about to let death remove me from the stage

They say that some excitement does wonders for the brain

Plus, it seems that I have inherited a plane

(Minagawa commandeers Guinness man's jet. The pilot, relieved that he no longer has to work for Death, says he will fly her anywhere.)

Minagawa:

First, let's go to my house

Then we'll fly to Hollywood

Next a night in Vegas. The Bellagio is good.

Then Puerto Vallarta, then a New York shopping spree

With today's exchange rate I am only 93

Only . . . ninety . . . three!

-- Ben Greenman, an editor at the New Yorker

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