Web Tease: There is an art practiced by many siblings of tattling without actually tattling. This practice is known as "dry-snitching" and is not for the meek.
There is an art, recently given an actual name, explained to me by one of my daughters, and universally practiced by siblings throughout history. It is the art of "dry snitching". This is the ability to tattle without actually tattling. Here are some examples of both snitching and dry-snitching. Note the subtle differences:
Snitching: Mom, Johnny smoked a cigarette.
Dry Snitching: Mom, Johnny looks so grown-up when he smokes. I bet people who see him think he’s much older.
Snitching: Dad, Becky had her boyfriend over while you were gone.
Dry Snitching: Becky’s boyfriend told the funniest joke when he was here the other night while she was babysitting us.
Snitching: I’m almost afraid to tell you. You’re going to be so mad. Sarah got a tattoo.
Dry Snitching: Sarah’s new tattoo looks great with her hot new halter-top.
This last example illustrates a bonus dry-snitch. In a single second, Tom put a halt to Sarah’s life as she knows it. While Tom gets extra snaps for subtly pointing out 2 infractions in the same simple statement, he will probably lose a sisterly alliance in the bargain. This kind of double whammy often ends up in the dry-snitched-on sibling turning state’s evidence against the perpetrator of the statement, and the resulting back and forth regurgitation of unsolicited information can render the parental units, looking something like the subject in Edvard Munch’s The Scream, in a state of utter shock and despair, wondering where exactly they were when all of this youthful pandemonium was occurring. Kids, you need to be fully aware of the years of punishment that can result from one too many dry-snitches!
Before you conclude that dry-snitching is something only for youth, read on:
Snitching: Al, I saw your wife Betty down at the bar. She was hanging on some young stud.
Dry Snitching: Al, I didn’t know Betty had any relatives in town. I saw her with what must have been her nephew down at the bar. They look like they have a very close relationship.
Snitching: Jake, Alice just spent a fortune at the department store. My wife saw her, and she said it looked like she spent about 6 month's salary on new clothes.
Dry Snitching: Jake, you old dog, you must have landed that big account. That was so sweet of you to let your wife use it for a new wardrobe. It looks like she did you right. There couldn’t be a dime left of it. What a guy! I should be more generous with my wife.
This is not an art to be practiced by the detail un-oriented or the meek and clumsy. It is a polished and refined craft that is only to be utilized by the top-notch tattler. Stay out of deep waters if you can't swim with the sharks. Either that, or make sure you have an arsenal of incriminating accusations that you, too, can use to retaliate.
Or, you could just . . . play nice.