WTF is Pinchie Winchie?

This site is named after a game that Harpo Marx describes in his autobiography, Harpo Speaks!

I paraphrase starting from page 280: The stock market has just crashed and Harpo is in desperate need of a $10,000 loan. His brother Chico brings him to meet a casino owner to try and get the money on short notice. Harpo has never met the guy before, but in his usual playful manner, he invites him to bring along one of his casino managers and play a game of Pinchie Winchie.

Everyone sits around the table and one after the other, pinches the guy to his left somewhere on the face, and shouts, “Pinchie winchie!” Then that player turns to the next player, and pinches him in the same place as fast as possible. Anyone who makes a mistake loses the round.

As they play the game, the casino owner starts to laugh uncontrollably, to the confusion of his employee. This is because the game is not what it seems, and isn’t about following the rules at all. In fact, Harpo has rubbed some charcoal on his fingers, and unbeknownst to the casino manager, each time Harpo pinches him he puts a black smear on his face, causing his boss to crack up laughing. By the end of the game the manager is covered with charcoal, but doesn’t know it and heads back to the casino floor to continue working.

After the game, the Marx brothers mention that Harpo needs a loan, and to their shock, the casino owner immediately goes to the safe and hands Harpo as much cash as he needs and tells him to pay it back whenever he can, interest free.

Years later, Harpo asks him why? Why was he willing to give such a large loan to someone he’d never met before? The casino owner answers that he had so much fun, and appreciated Harpo’s playful nature enough to know that he was trustworthy.

That is the power of play.