I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean, a memoir by Alena Dillon, imparts the tales of a twenty-something Everywoman who has trouble resisting television, Indian food, and Groupon, and who is completely baffled by the New York way of life. As a Connecticut native transplanted into Long Island, the reader follows Dillon being the victim of road rage, stumbling onto a nude beach, and being caught elbows-deep in Cheez-Its alone in her apartment after a week-long binge of 24, among other occurrences.
What I find refreshing about Alena Dillon is the fact that she is young and is writing for her peers. She gives voice to our daily complaints about our beloved television shows, leaving us with a sense of hopeless emptiness, the ridiculous rules about the Starbucks rewards member refills, and hopes of fitting into our mother’s jeans from the ’70s (maybe not the ones with a zipper that “begins in the back, traces down the butt crack, snakes between the thighs, until finally fastening up the crotch,” but you get my point). She is modest and her tales ring true, despite their outlandishness.
Do not mistake Alena Dillon for the “basic” white girl. Her modest yet bold perspective reveals that her world revolves around survival and the justice of being given what is deserved, not on insignificance of the barista’s inability to spell her name correctly. Alena does not seem to write this memoir with the notion that everyone should care about her or laud her for her grace. Rather, she writes to entertain us. She is not afraid to admit that she is less than perfect, which makes Dillon’s memoir that much more enjoyable.
Dillon is witty, jocund, and delightful. Her inviting style compels you to empathize with her awkward encounters and even makes you feel like she’s sitting beside you, speaking to you like a friend. Although her style is heavily influenced by David Sedaris, her writing never runs off-topic, nor does it ever become dry. I found myself murmuring “me, too” several times throughout the course of my reading, which further illuminates Alena Dillon as being just as clumsy, awkward, and normal as I am.
Alena Dillon kept me laughing from cover to cover. This book would best suit readers who enjoy dry humor, puns, and laid-back prose.