I’ve seen hundreds of movies by myself – sometimes multiple times. In 1990 I saw “Dances with Wolves” four times. I fell head-over-heels in love with Kevin Costner and paid over and over for the pleasure of seeing him in deerskins.

I started going to movies by myself when I first left home. Going to movies helped pass the time and fill the void left by my friends and family.

In the beginning it was about escaping my loneliness, but now it is one of my greatest pleasures.

Going to a movie alone also eliminates the need to carpool.

Carpooling is a wonderful social movement that I wholeheartedly support for other people. “Should we ride together?” is a responsible question in these polluted times. But it doesn’t have the same meaning for me.

“Should we ride together?” for me means that I’m forced to roll the dice on my driver’s punctuality. Missing the previews or getting a bad seat – an aisle seat, halfway up is where you will find me – is not an option.

Yesterday a friend emailed a group of us asking if we wanted to see “Gravity” in 3-D. Everyone said “no” for various reasons (“Gravity” in 3-D on a Monday night?), and then my friend closed the email loop with the message that she was going alone because she needed to see all the Oscar-nominated movies before the Oscars.

She added that it would be only her second time seeing a movie by herself. The first time, she said, was seeing “The Big Chill.” Her confession turned into an email poll about who had and who had not gone to a movie alone.

Of the five friends in the email conversation, two had never seen a movie alone. One friend shared that she felt sad when she saw people at the movies by themselves. Apparently it took her back to her own memories of standing on the playground alone. Another friend had seen two movies by herself and … you already know my pathetic stand-on-the-playground-with-no-friends-story of going to hundreds of movies by myself, alone.

Last Sunday I spent the evening watching the Super Bowl game with my neighbor Nancy. Nancy is a die-hard Patriots fan. But with the Patriots out of the picture, she had spent the weeks before the Super Bowl getting up to speed on all things Broncos and Seahawks.

“It’s always about the personalities. Always,” Nancy told me.

Her husband was away and her kids are grown and gone, so I wandered over for what I thought was going to be a quick beer with a friend, a few nachos and a gesture of feminine solidarity.

What I found was a one-woman party complete with a giant platter of nachos, homemade caramel swirl brownies and a growler of beer. I stayed. We watched every ad and every play uninterrupted. If I hadn’t stayed for the game, she was wholly prepared to go it alone, from kick-off to the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Between timeouts and helping each other remember aging actors in commercials (Kurt Russell looks better older), she told me that she loves watching games by herself and loves going to movies alone. “I prefer it, actually,” she said.

“Eureka,” I thought. “A comrade,” I declared.

Milk Duds, a small popcorn, nachos and a growler of beer is certainly no way to live a healthy life, but if your husband is away and your ride is late, go it alone.

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

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