I can trace my obsession with organization back to the late 1970s and an infomercial I saw during my grossly unsupervised formative years. It was for a purse called the Ambassador Bag. It was a butt ugly monstrosity of a purse made from the cheapest ozone piercing pleather available at that time. Even as a child of 11 or 12 I can remember thinking to myself, "that is a butt ugly monstrosity of a purse. And I must have it".
You see, the lure of the Ambassador Bag was that it included a whole bunch of accessories that each had its own designated spot inside the purse. No matter what you carried in your purse the Ambassador Bag had the perfect sized cubby for it. I was mesmerized at how perfectly the giant 1978 sunglasses fit into the sunglasses pouch. And how it even included a special wallet with pockets and pouches and credit card slots. Oh, and the mail pouch! Did I mention the mail pouch? I'm sure you can see how that would appeal to any 12 year old. Which, by the way, is equivalent to about a 6 year old by today's standards and rate of maturity.
The one thing that I can still clearly remember to this day, the thing that made me insist on having this glorious bag, was the snap-on key rings. How frustrating is it to lose your keys in the bottom of your purse and have to waste time fishing for them, thereby making yourself late for work or for picking up the kids or for redeeming your almost expired coupons at the Piggly Wiggly? My 12 year old brain imagined that would be pretty awful. My 12 year old brain was also probably slightly autistic (and still is) and was instantly captivated by the sound that snap-on key ring made when the actress in the commercial repeatedly snapped and unsnapped it from the purse. That was the best clicking sound ever and I wanted it for myself.
I remember pleading with my mother to buy me the Ambassador Bag. I made it as simple as possible for her by writing down the toll free number, the price, and I emphasized the fact that she didn't have to send any money. All she'd have to do is pay for the bag and the C.O.D. charges when it arrived. I described the bag in excruciating detail to her, and explained how I would never need another purse again for as long as I lived because this...this was the Ambassador Bag. I don't think I mentioned the clicky key ring thing but I did tell her that Suzanne Somers endorsed the bag so it was probably really good. Suzanne Somers wouldn't be caught dead with an Ambassador Bag but I had an agenda so huge that I had no qualms about throwing Chrissy Snow under a bus.
You see, it wasn't the expense that was the problem. My parents were fairly wealthy at that time and their preferred (and only) way to show love to their children was to buy them stuff. My sister and I had stuff and also had a pretty much constant influx of new stuff all the time. For birthdays and holidays, no matter how obscure, we got stuff. We were rewarded for good behavior and good grades with more stuff. When my parents felt guilty about something, even if it didn't involve us, they bought us stuff. If any kind of family problem came up, my parents just threw money at it until it went away. This was normal for me for a long time.
The problem with the Ambassador Bag wasn't its huge price tag of $14.95 plus shipping and handling and C.O.D. charges. It was the fact that 1) it wasn't my mother's idea and 2) it would require effort on her part. Either of those could be a deal breaker but both together could prove insurmountable. That is why I lied about my beloved Chrissy Snow. I felt sure she would understand if she knew what I was up against.
I don't know which of my arguments did it, but I think it was the money back guarantee since even if you sent the bag back, they let you keep the waterproof cosmetic pouch as a gift. Eventually I was rewarded with my very own vinyl Ambassador Bag adorned with my initials on the front flap. I remember the joy I felt as I put all of the accessories in their designated cubbies. I filled my new wallet with pictures and a little cash. I stuffed my new cosmetic case with my one tube of Bonne Bell bubblegum lip gloss. I used my new ballpoint pen to write names and addresses in my new address book that had its own special cubby too. And I spent an unhealthy amount of time snapping and unsnapping my empty key rings from inside the purse.
I'm not sure that I ever actually carried my Ambassador Bag, I really don't remember. I know I didn't really carry a purse at that time and since I didn't go anywhere but school, I doubt it ever left the house. But having it gave me joy. I loved having a designated, perfectly designed place to store all those important purse items that I didn't yet have. I think that's where my love for organizing started. Not that I'm a super organized person. I talk about organizing a whole lot more than I actually do it. But it gives me joy to talk about it.
And I'm talking about it now because I'm knee deep in actually doing it, which I'll have to cover in another post. It's a nasty process but I'm already feeling a little liberated by purging some unnecessary junk and making what's left look pretty.
And just so you know I didn't invent the Ambassador Bag story, I found the actual commercial on YouTube. I dare you to watch it and not instantly covet that bag. Okay, fine, watching it again was somewhat nauseating and I can't imagine why I ever thought I needed that ugly thing.