You know that fight scene in the first "Rocky" movie - OK, or any of them, really - when Rocky is just getting pummeled and he's battered and bloody and barely able to stand?

Yeah, that's how I feel during back-to-school shopping.

Bodies swirling around me, carts crashing, toes getting run over. Hands reaching in front of me for glue sticks and Sharpies. Packages of mechanical pencils being thrust into my face while I'm trying to simultaneously read three different supply lists. And that's just the mayhem surrounding my posse of three. Imagine that plus throngs of other parents and kids all doing the same thing in a fairly confined space.

Now that'll cause a nosebleed.

I wish school-supply shopping could be all movie-fied and that you could dial things down into slo-mo, like in those dramatic scenes where everyone talks in a warped drawl at a speed of one word per hour.

"MOOOoooooOOOOM..... CAAAAaaaaaaaaNNNnnn.... IiiiiiiIII.... GEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeetttt.... THHiiiiiiiiisssSSS.... PEEEEEeeeeeencilllll.... POOOOooooooooOOUUUCHHHH?"

That would be so much easier to follow. And infinitely more entertaining.

Because what really happens is everyone yells at me (how is it that none of them gets the concept of the "inside voice"?) at once and super-fast, running entire sentences into one long word, while sticking things so close to my eyes that I can't focus.

"Lookatthiscoolpencilsharpener! CanIgetitplease!"

"You have one already."

Of course this happens while I'm trying to find the EXACT spiral-bound notebook specified on supply list No. 2. Said notebook must have perforated edges and be wide, not college, ruled, and have at least 70 but no more than 100 pages. There are approximately 507 different types of this kind of notebook spread across two aisles.

And because my children don't have jobs and don't realize how all this school stuff adds up pretty quickly, they do not appreciate the concept of comparison shopping, i.e., buying only what is on sale.

"This notebook has butterflies on it!"

Butterfly notebook is $1.50.

"Ooh!" I yell back because why the heck should I use an indoor voice when they don't. "Look at this cool green one! And it's even one of your school colors!"

It's also 17 cents.

If I sound cheap, it's because I am. Three kids who all need uniforms and backpacks and lunchbags and boom, there goes $350 - money that could be so much better spent. Like on new shoes. For me.

But I'm thankful for at least one thing: no weird items on anyone's list this year.

One time, we were tasked with finding a Trapper Keeper. Not as simple as it sounds. When I went to school, everyone had 'em. But this thing was like the holy grail of school supplies.

It ended up being quite the search. We checked three different stores. No luck. We had to call around trying to hunt down the elusive Trapper Keeper and THEN we had to deal with these annoying guys who kept saying "ni" and a rude Frenchman and a killer rabbit ... And, OK, so those last things actually happened in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and not our 2011 production of "The Nearly Neverending Search for the 1 1/2-inch Solid Color Trapper Keeper With Zipper Not Snap Closure."

This part is true, though, that sucker cost, like, $19. Sheesh, that kind of dough could keep us in butterfly notebooks through college.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. Heard around the house: No. 3, to his older sister on why he was willing to share ice cream with his mother but not her: "Mom gave me birth. You have given me nothing."