The battle was heated. Adrenaline was flowing. You could cut through the tension with a chainsaw.Wisconsin hoopsters Brian Butch and Kammron Taylor were locked in a game of rock, paper, scissors to decide who would have to answer the dreadfully longwinded and pointless question posed at a recent postgame press conference.The melee was almost as dramatic as an M. Night Shymalan flick, as the two UW starters were engaged in a struggle so epic, it could only be decided by the tiebreaker of the gods: rock, paper, scissors …This was the scene two weekends ago in the Kohl Center media room, following the Badgers’ 74-62 win over Iowa and was just the latest incident of life-changing decisions being determined through a game of hand symbols.This phenomenon — how a stone, a thin sheet of pulverized pine and an elementary cutting utensil came to stand as the weapons of choice when crucial scores need to be settled — is one that is embraced all across America. Probably in Finland, too, if it is half as heavenly as Madison mayoral candidate Will Sandstrom says it is.But the critical question is what is superior: rock, paper or scissors?When your Bret Boone sock collection is on the line against your bud’s prize-winning mural of Harold Minor winning the 1995 — not the ’93 — slam dunk contest, what are you going to throw?Let’s break down the contestants:Rock: Often noted for its all-around toughness and durability, rock’s versatility has often been underrated, much like the urinal cake, being used for everything from sidewalks to Michaelagelo’s David. Detractors are often quick to point out the overall power and dominance of any object that is used as a symbol by the Hoosier football team must be questioned.Paper: Surprisingly enough, the first paper outdates toilet paper by more than 4,000 years, but its overall diversity in use is unmatched. Along with eggs, it’s often considered the deadliest of high school house-defacing materials.Scissors: Since kindergarten, these blades of havoc have been taboo, even the one’s made with Big Bird or Snuffleupagus-designed handles. These suckers have been the downfall of many a third-grade girl’s pigtail, courtesy of the boy sitting one row back…As you can see, this battle royale is about as even as they come, with none of the weaponized hand motions getting an early advantage. Thankfully, last weekend at the local Madison watering hole The Plaza, there was a rock, paper, scissors tournament — the most action you will see this side of the 74th through 86th minutes of “Commando.”To help solve the mystery of which was in fact the Arnold of hand emblems, I approached the combatants to see if there was any general consensus. Sadly, the opinion was more split than “Mr. Rogers: friendly face or sweatered scallywag?”Early on, scissors seemed to be a popular choice, though the throwing technique apparently could be the difference-maker.”Scissors off the knee, that’s the way to be,” said a scruffled beer sipper. “It catches everybody off guard, coming from below.”One patron who would only be identified as “Dickie Joe” even claimed that scissors was an escape from life’s problems, like Colt .45 40s or cutting off your hair — if you are the Ex-Mrs. Federline.”Scissors is the best because it cuts out all the problems of life,” Mr. Joe said.However, as time went on, it was increasingly more obvious that paper had a cult following comparable to that of “Trekkies.””Paper is the best. It’s the most complete,” explained a bright-orange-sporting Packer fan who somehow managed to throw an interception in paper, rock, scissors … imagine that.”People don’t expect that. They think ‘Oh man, I’m gonna throw rock and kill that guy,’ but paper will come out of nowhere every time and win.”Another proclaimed it was paper’s cockroach-like adaptability that gives it the edge.”Paper is the best. You can write on it, you can mail it,” the Mohawked Man said. “Try mailing a rock. You’ll be arrested for mailing scissors I bet or just piss off the mailman.”A 6-foot-5 ruffian summed up paper in very sporting terms.”Paper is the sleeper. It’s like Wichita State.”And before you think rock is the Sandstrom of this election/popularity contest, let it be known that the stone was the overwhelming favorite.”In real life, what is paper going to do against rock? It would just be a target to aim at,” a young lady in a Mick Jagger shirt said.With this survey being done so close to the UW campus, I knew I was bound to hear some solid scientific reasoning, articulately disclosed.”Rock rocks, man. The name says it all. It just rocks.”Not all were keen to be in on my survey, however.”Scissors is best because I can cut you with it,” one upset interviewee said.Still, that was a Christmas gift when compared to my final subject of the evening.”Rock is the best because you can bash someone’s face in … take a hint, sucker.”Oh, my.After a long, hard night, slaving away at my work, I was still no closer to an answer… That is when I remembered Killa Kam and the Polar Bear’s throw down.… Paper, rock, scissors, SHOOT! Taylor and Butch were at a draw, as both threw … SCISSORS. Very interesting. The anxiety doubled, as the teammates-turned-foes once again threw their weapons. Rock, paper, scissors SHOOT!Game! Taylor was the latest mauling by the Polar Bear, falling SCISSORS to paper.”You gotta take a chance sometimes, so I decided to go twice on scissors, and it worked for me,” Butch said afterward. “Kam’s ‘The Magician’ so you never know what he’s going to pull out, so I was trying to keep it nice and even — do the same thing every time and let him change.”It all made sense. From day one, they have always been telling us not to run with scissors. Why? Because of their potential for destruction. Not even a mage like Kam Taylor could fight the power of the twin blades.Did anyone ever say not to run with rocks? No more than “don’t run with pillows.”Dump trucks and bulldozers drive around with rocks all the time. Try doing that with scissors, and it’s off to the pokey for you, for sure.Dave McGrath is a senior majoring in English and journalism. If you’d like to make a case for rotten rocks or pathetic paper, GO AWAY. But if you’d like to talk about stupendous scissors, write him at [email protected]
"Rock, paper, scissors: Which is best choice?"