'World's fastest tongue' attempts to break cherry-stem tying record

Jun. 27, 2014 @ 04:50 PM

Some people have a special gift.

Al Gliniecki’s relates to cherry stems.

He can use his tongue to tie them into knots really fast. Faster than anyone else in the world, in fact.

He’ll show off his talent at the Guinness World Records Museum on Friday, July 4, when he’ll try to break his own, Guinness-certified record of 13 stems in one minute. The event begins at noon.

His goal is 14 stems. “I don’t want to beat my record too bad, where I can’t beat it anymore,” said Gliniecki, 50.

Gliniecki doesn’t just hold the one-minute record. He dominates Guinness’ cherry stem categories, including, he said, the shortest time for tying a single stem (two seconds), and the most stems tied in three minutes (39) and one hour (911).

Not all of Gliniecki’s times have been certified, he said. In an email, Guinness confirmed Gliniecki’s one-minute and one-hour records.

A retired military paramedic and law enforcement worker, Gliniecki has demonstrated his talent in numerous media appearances. He has been on “The Tonight Show,” “Today” and “Good Morning America.” He set the three-minute record on Montel Williams’ talk show, the one-hour record on Ricki Lake’s.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Gliniecki, an Alaska native who lives in Gulf Breeze, Fla., near Pensacola. “I’ve met so many people doing this. It’s kind of crazy.”

As you might have guessed, the story of how Gliniecki perfected his skill begins in a bar. He was at one in Memphis with his now ex-wife. She tied a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue.

“I was like, ‘How’d you do that?’” he recalled. He began practicing. His first success took 15 minutes.

He was working in a bar at the time, and he began putting his skill to use in bets with customers.

“A guy says, ‘Man, you ought to go for a world record,’” Gliniecki said. He looked, and there was no record in Guinness’ famous book. He contacted the organization.

“They said, ‘If you do 400 in an hour, we’ll think about it,’” Gliniecki said. He tied 679 stems. The year was 1995. Before long, he had his first Guinness certificate.

People ask Gliniecki why he can do this so quickly. “I have no idea,” he said. Unlike Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, with his incredible arm span, Gliniecki possesses no anatomical advantage that he knows of. “I can’t roll my tongue,” he said. “My tongue’s not 3 feet long.”

The conditions have to be right, though. The stems should be an inch to an inch and a half in length. Thinner stems are better. They should be at room temperature. “If the stems are cold, they break,” Gliniecki said. “I need them to bend.”

For the past several weeks, Gliniecki has been spending Saturday afternoons at the Guinness museum, meeting visitors and tying stems.

He challenges onlookers to tie stems with their hands faster than he does with his tongue. He is unbeaten.

On Friday, Gliniecki’s attempt will be officially adjudicated by Guinness-authorized personnel. “They’ll know then and there,” he said.

Gliniecki promotes himself as the World’s Fastest Tongue.

“I have a tattoo of that on my left arm,” he said. “It’s a registered trademark.”

kburns@themountainpress.com