At last, it's mid-summer, and time for the Etiquette
Grrls to enjoy the Charming Beaches of our favorite Sedate Seaside
Towns! Bring on the Lilly maillots, and pack the impossibly heavy
picnic basket to the brim with delicious treats! However, Dear Reader,
remember that unless you are Fortunate Enough to own a Lovely Cottage
with its own Private Beach, you will be sharing the beach avec tout
le monde. And although our own Recent Beach Trip was blessedly devoid
of trifling, we have, upon other occasions, been made Absolutely
Nauseated by Rude Acts perpetrated at the beach. We have, thusly,
written a few charming little tips on how one should behave à
la plage, in order to make a Day at the Shore more pleasant for
What Beach Should I Go To?
The Etiquette Grrls have a Strong Preference for beaches on the
East Coast. We know, Dear Californian Readers, that your coast has
lovely places too. However, as we are From New England, we feel
that there is Something to Be Said about beaches in Colder Climes,
such as, say, Maine. Beaches there are beautiful, not overcrowded
with Surfer Types in Nasty Bikinis, and, at least for the first
months of summer, Rather Bracing. And, as you know, the Etiquette
Grrls, like all New Englanders, have a lot of respect for Stamina.
In theory, at least. The beach you choose should ideally be situated
near a tiny little town with cute, seasonal restaurants, an utter
lack of vile souvenir shops, and a Good Bar.
Claiming Your Space
When you arrive at the beach, unpack the car and carry your belongings
to the sand. Put down your Beach Blanket (which the Etiquette Grrls
hope is, indeed, a Blanket, preferably an old, Pendleton one, and
not a Ratty Fitted Sheet or something), and place your heavy items
on its corners to prevent it from becoming airborne. We remind you
that the beach is not Oklahoma Territory in the 1870's; if the beach
is crowded, you may not attempt to spread your stuff out over as
much space as possible. Conversely, if the beach is not crowded,
you should leave a good distance between your blanket and that of
your nearest neighbors.
What You Should Wear
Please, Dear Reader, find a bathing suit that fits you, flatters
you, and does not involve metallic fabrics, mesh, that material
they make Scuba Diving Suits out of, perilous string situations,
and any sort of thong-type bottom. This is true for both boys and
girls. In addition, boys do not belong in Speedos! Ever! We remind
you that you should also carry a bathing-suit cover-up. You wear
a cover-up to the beach and do not remove it until you are at your
blanket, and you put it on again whenever you venture off your blanket
toward a destination which is not the Water. It is not acceptable
to wander into the wee seaside tea room wearing a dripping wet maillot,
Dear Reader, even if it is in an adorable Lilly print.
The Tan Vs. the UnTan
The Etiquette Grrls think it is absolutely lovely to be totally
devoid of a suntan! We think it truly chic to be pale, even at the
Height of Summer. However, on many an occasion, Other People have
Taken It Upon Themselves to encourage the Etiquette Grrls to "get
a bit of sun" or "lay out for a while." And especially
at the beach, the Etiquette Grrls are subjected to Unsolicited,
Rude Comments like, "You are pale as ghosts! I'm so glad you're
sitting near me--you'll make me look really tan!" This, Dear
Reader, is Rude. If the Etiquette Grrls want to cover themselves
in SPF 30 and read Patricia Highsmith novels under a Lilly umbrella,
it is Not Your Concern. We don't come up to our sun-worshipping
neighbors on the beach and say, "Wow! You look like leather!
Oh, please, sit next to us-- you'll make our skin look even more
porcelain!" Because, Dear Reader, that too would be Rude. And
the Etiquette Grrls are never, ever Rude.
While sand may be an Intriguing, Fun Substance to all of you Sophisticated
City Creatures, you should not dig and/or build any structures which
prevent Other People from getting to the water. Even if the Small
Children playing near you are screeching like sunburnt banshees,
you should not attempt to Wall Them In. Though the Etiquette Grrls
are sure the idea is tempting.
Cleaning Up After Yourself
There is nothing more vile than to Settle In for a tranquil day
on a gorgeous beach, only to find, as you dig your perfectly manicured
toes into the sand, that you are sitting in a Veritable Garbage
Pit. The Etiquette Grrls cannot believe that anyone would be so
rude as to leave rotting food, cigarette butts, empty bottles of
Alizé (ugh), ABC gum, etc., on the beach for Other People
to find. Please bring a wee plastic bag with you and properly dispose
of your refuse!
Beach Attire off the Beach
What a lovely time you've had at Compo Beach today! Wouldn't it
be ever so splendid to stop in town for a glass of iced tea before
heading home? Well, Dear Reader, of course it would, provided you
have brought an appropriate cover-up for your swimsuit. One of the
Etiquette Grrls nearly had a Conniption at Her Favorite Local Coffeehouse
because standing in the queue ahead of her was a woman in a gold
lamé bikini. (No, we're not kidding. No sarong. Not even
one of those ugly hooded towel-fashioned-into-a-dress type things.)
Not that anyone should be wearing a gold lamé bikini at any
time, ever, Dear Reader, but please do not inflict your swimsuit-clad
self upon Other People who are nowhere near the beach!
Dear Reader, imagine how wonderful summer would
be for us all if Our Country's Beaches were visited only by polite,
thoughtful, well-dressed, friendly people! We are sure, however,
that in your trips to the shore, you have encountered grievous offenses.
Because the Etiquette Grrls know that Sharing is Cathartic, we encourage
you to write to us with your personal stories of rudeness you've
encountered at the beach. Bonnes vacances à la plage!