They’re nimble and sleek. They come in a myriad designs, sizes and colors, with or without tails, three buttons or two or one, with scroll wheels and balls and gleaming laser-optics. And they do one thing that makes them absolutely irresistible to me: they point and CLICK.
Ever since my very first computer—a 28 Compaq “luggable,” I have geeked out over tactile feedback. First, it was keyboards. Because I was a PC-user (all because of a little word processor called PC-Write—more on that geek-out some other time), I started life without a mouse. I became a connoisseur of keyboards. I loved the clackity tappit of the IBM keyboard I had at work and hated the soft, mushy rubbery feel of the Osbornes and Mac Classics I’d played with. (And we won’t even discuss that old VT-200 terminal in the HR department.) I wanted keys that didn’t just depress. I wanted keys that clicked, that ticked, that said: “Ooh, baby, I’ve been typed!” with every finger tap.
When I got my first Mac laptop, I thought I had found the keyboard of my dreams. I liked it even better than the standard Mac keyboard I used on my desk rig (I run an additional flat screen display, keyboard and mouse off my laptop with a Tardis USB hub for thumb drives and other gadgetry). But one day my Dear Husband (Chef Jeff Vader, All-Powerful God of Biscuits), who works for Apple, came home with a keyboard for me that was the cat’s pajamas, whiskers and meow all rolled into one. The keys are thin, flat little squares that type so lightly, so trippingly, I swear you could breathe on that puppy and it would type three short stories and a screenplay.
I was in seventh heaven. And then, hardware fans, he brought me the Macbook Pro on which I am typing this blog. It has—I can hardly believe it—the same amazing, tactilely satisfying keyboard as the desktop. AND the keys light up, making it ideal for working (as I am now) in a semi-dark living room with the flickering movement of the Australian Open making things interesting.
So, keyboards make me happy. But mice … mice make me positively giddy. With a good mouse under my hand, I am the most talented, beautiful, and powerful wordsmith in the known Universe. There is something so sensually pleasing about the palm-fitting curve of a good mouse. Something energizing and soul-satisfying about my favorite mouse attribute—THE CLICK. There are times that the click of my one button Magic Mouse causes a delicious chill of what my Buddhist friends call “suchness”—as if, in that moment of clickage, I know that God is in His heaven and all is right with the Universe. I am suddenly and unutterably content.
I collect mice. My husband (who has more guitars than most touring rock bands and collects studio mics the way our daughter collects My Little Ponies) does not understand this.
“I bought you a Magic Mouse for Christmas,” he says, perturbed a my inability to be monogamous(e). “Why do you need other mice?”
“Because it’s good to use multiple input devices,” I reply sagely. “As much time as I spend on a computer, I need to guard against carpal tunnel syndrome.”
This is utter bull hockey. The truth is, they all feel just a little different. And as much as I love my husband, I say “Vive la difference!” My old Kensington mouse has a more stately click than my Logitech travel mouse (RIP), whose clicks were so perky, my fingers wanted to dance across the buttons. And my old Mac mouse with its two-state single button and little bi-directional scroll ball is a steady, solid work horse—er, rodent.
But yes, the star of the show is the Magic Mouse. She is tailless and has no dongle. Nor does she have buttons, per se, and no scroll wheel or ball. The entire top of the mouse is a clicking surface and “knows” which button you mean to press. It is also a scrolling surface that even allows two-finger drags to page back and forth through documents or websites. (Be still my heart.)
This mouse has also earned a singular honor among my collection past and present. She has a name. Only fans of a particular network TV show will get this, but since my husband decided I should name my new laptop “Castle,” the mouse’s name is “Beckett.”
Many of my friends become quite overwrought when working on the computer. Nerves get frayed because of browsers that won’t open or word processors that won’t obey simple commands like “Go stuff yourself, you misbegotten heap of spaghetti code!” The computer quickly becomes an adversary. My advice: Go to your nearest computer store and play with the mice. Click to your heart’s content. Then pick the mouse whose shape you find the most pleasing, whose clicks lift your spirits the highest and BUY THAT MOUSE.
Or buy a whole bunch of mice—buy one for every day of the week. Deduct them as a business expense or charge them to your health insurance as a stress relief or meditation aid. Then click your way to happiness.