Wow did I get lucky on this one. So I was about to head out to Home Depot yesterday to get another wax ring. My wife is upstairs running water in the kitchen sink, and I'm down in the office adjacent to the bathroom with the toilet problem. I hear a gurgling sound coming from the toilet, and water backing up in the shower drain. Not sure how this was happening (maybe the paper towel wad moved down the pipe into a spot where the shower and toilet drain pipes meet), but I figured I'd try plunging one more time, especially since the pipes were all full of water and I could maybe get some better pressure.
Plunging the toilet did nothing, again. After a couple of flushes, all I had was a full bowl. But then I went to the shower and plunged that drain. After just a few pushes, I hear the water rush out of the toilet bowl and it's empty. Bingo!
Thanks for the help guys. This is still a very good lesson learned, and I got away with not having to take up the toilet as punishment.