As its name so eponymously explicates, it is a game of tug of war in which instead of a rope, the players use a length of toilet paper. It is a silly game, as most games including something so trivial as toilet paper tend to be. If the players understand enough about play and playfulness to work together, even though they are competing, and manage keep the toilet paper from tearing, the game can become profoundly fun indeed.
Ginny Hunneke of the Fun Conspiracy, played this game with a an audience for whom the game was surprisingly appropriate. She explains: “[we] collaborated with SoulSpeak Asheville, a youth poetry slam organization, to create the Cosmic Happy Slam. Youth poets generally are adept at venting their frustrations and angst in poetic form. We wanted to plant the seed that poetic expression could also be a wonderful tool for cultivating joy and hope in their troubled lives as teenagers. To assist their shift to this new paradigm, we conducted a playshop to generate awareness of how fun feels, and to learn a vocabulary for expressing the experiences of joy. Toilet Paper Tug of War was the highlight of the event for many of the kids!”
There are so many reasons I like this story. I think these young poets might have truly understood the poetry of the game: the dynamic metaphor for a deeply human connection, played out between people who are, on the one hand, each trying to dominate the other, while, on the other, simultaneously working closely and sensitively together to keep the connection from breaking. I think they shared an experience of mutuality and caring that transcended the anger and alienation that has driven their souls to express themselves with such pained beauty, and discovered, through the game, and with each other, a deeper, more loving, more inclusive alternative. This is powerful work. Powerful fun. Formative. Transformative. I am delighted to learn that my silly little game has been put to such good use.