Restroom Visits Lead to a Book

Larry Glantz. Photo by Jon Marks

By Jon Marks

Toilet humor.

That’s what Larry Glanz is focused on these days. Not funny stuff with the kind of four-letter words that can’t be used in print or, for the most part, said on TV or radio. But laugh-producing observations about what takes place — or doesn’t take place — when you go to the bathroom.

No, he’s not here to tell you the best pot to — as his Russian-born grandmother who spoke Yiddish in the house would say —“pish” in. Or where you can feel most comfortable taking a load off.

Rather, this longtime traveling salesman, who frequented hundreds, if not thousands, of restrooms throughout his 40-year career, is more concerned about what you do once you’ve taken care of business. And he’s written a book about it: “The Ultimate Book of Bathroom Etiquette,” spelling out all the do’s and don’ts of something we can all relate to.

“My book is about a universal subject that will enlighten people about what they need to know about bathroom etiquette,” said Glanz, who grew up near Oxford Circle in the Northeast, was a bar mitzvah at the since-closed Temple Sholom and graduated from Northeast High School and Temple University before moving to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, nearly 20 years ago. “I cover every issue. If you don’t always flush the toilet … leave the light on … spray before you leave … or not lock the door when you go in. It’s very disarming.”

Glanz presents those and other issues in a unique way, ranging from disastrous personal experiences to nursery rhymes to song parodies to an imaginative historical perspective. His “Commandments of Bathroom Etiquette’ go well beyond 10. And there’s a whole chapter devoted to what he calls “yingles.”

“Yingles are Jewish bathroom etiquette jingles,” explained Glanz, who wrote three prior books, including the original “Ultimate Book of Bathroom Etiquette” in 1999. “Some people are uncomfortable with them because they don’t know them. But they’re all rhyming and, hopefully, smile-producing. And they definitely keep you in touch with your Jewish background.”

For example, there’s ”When You ‘Pish’ Upon a Star,” “Too Many Knishes,” sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” or “Don’t Get Paper on my Shoes,” sung like “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Each parody has at least one Yiddish word, while the rest of the lyrics go into graphic detail about bathroom issues. And in case you don’t know the meanings, there’s a Yiddish translation guide at the end of the chapter.

So why does a man who once made two appearances on “Oprah,” following the 1994 publication of his first book, “How to Start a Romantic Encounter” and later wrote “Guy Gets Girl, Girl Gets Guy,” get fixated on bathrooms?

It sort of came with the territory.

Courtesy of Larry Glantz

“Back in the day, I drank a ton of coffee and water, so I’m pishing every time I get to a store,” said Glanz, who sold vitamins for a health food company for years and still has his own business. “While I’m using everyone’s bathrooms, I start noticing signs everywhere.
“‘Please jiggle the handle… Please spray the air … Please flush … Don’t leave a mess. It was mainly in health food stores.

“Eventually, I started taking pictures of those signs to document it. ‘Do not throw towels in the toilet.’ ‘Don’t sleep.’ Eventually, we get one that says, ‘If you sprinkle when you tinkle please be neat and wipe the seat’ at Haars Health Food in Vineland, New Jersey. You could not believe how many people were obsessed with this issue.”

And there’s a good chance you won’t believe some of what’s in this book. It’s certainly funny in places. When you start singing the words to “Will You Please Wash Your Hands,” a take off on a Beatles classic or TV favorites like “The Beverly Spillbillies” or Gilligan’s “Tale of a Bathroom Slip,” you might well laugh out loud.

But it’s also crude and raunchy, detailing what can happen when someone leaves the facility in a disgusting way. While trying to be funny, Glanz can paint a pretty unpleasant picture.

Not that he’s separating himself from the matter. He’s got a chapter confessing to his personal bathroom-related disasters — one on a date, another at a family gathering. He’s got one listing “Fartlett’s Unfamiliar Quotes” that might cause Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Vince Lombardi and others he takes liberty with to cringe.

There’s even a section on “pet-iquette,” with song parodies about curbing your dog like Sinatra takeoff “It Had to be Poop” and ‘This Tragic Moment,” based on the Jay and the Americans song.

As for historians wondering about the origin of all this, Glanz said it dates to two Chinese philosophers. “The character Confuse-us is based on a fifth century B.C. philosopher who moralized over proper behavior in the bathroom,” revealed Glanz, who said his plan down the road is to tell Confuse-us’ backstory in greater detail. “Scholars have said he and Confucius were best buds until one terrible day Confuse-us accused his host of not stocking enough spray. Legend has it Confucius threw Confuse-us out of his house.”

That kind of vivid imagination comes in handy when you’re on the road as much as Glanz has been. But since the pandemic hit, forcing him to stay close to home, he’s had more time to put together all the ideas that would come to him amid his travels, where he’d often pull over to jot them down.

The result is a book that is more complete than the original, which he rushed to get out, fearing that his company was about to clean house and he’d be out of work.

“I really regretted it and felt if I had time I’d like to have a do-over,” Glanz said. “So I called the original publisher and said, ‘Let me do this again.’

“I knew what people liked about it and what I hated. The songs are a hoot. They’ll be amazing for karaoke parties. And the end of the book has a quiz — a ‘plop’ quiz — to see how much you know from reading it.”

But according to Glanz, you don’t have to know all the Beatles or Stones songs to appreciate the parodies or know the words to the Mickey Mouse Club song to get a kick out of what he calls his masterpiece.

“There’s going to be things they don’t know,” he said. “Sayings they don’t know. Nursery rhymes they don’t know. I want them to discover the original artists and fall in love with them like l did.”

Jon Marks is a freelance writer.



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