When someone sets up too close to you on a crowded beach, what’s the best way to encourage them to relocate?
Let’s deal with territorial issue first: Towel-touching is way too close. It’s the beach equivalent of elevator groping. If you can smell their sunscreen or B.O., or hear the music from their iPod headphones, it’s perfectly fine to get rude—unless, of course, theirs is a bod worth ogling from behind those mirrored Oakleys.
My general rule of thumb: If you can detect minor body malformations in uncomfortable detail, or if their casual conversation is understandable, action is required.
Politely asking for a bit more personal space might work, assuming there’s space nearby and you’re not dealing with beach cretins. Chances are, though, you’re dealing with beach cretins. I recommend a sudden, hacking cough and loud oversharing. “Not sure yet how contagious it is,” one might announce. “Probably just something I picked up in Haiti.”