Who uses it: Teenagers, mostly, but also pyrotechnicians
What it means: A small firecracker attached to a foot-long stick, which shoots straight up when lit, making a whistling noise. I'm pretty sure they get their name from the fact that it's safest (relatively speaking) to light them when you set the stick in a bottle before you light the fuse. They're generally illegal, so don't try this at home.
How you can use it: To describe something cheap and flashy.
Most of Washington took the day off yesterday, and so did I. Claire and I went downtown for lunch with the Eraths, and I managed to find a parking space in the middle of George Washington University, something that never happens on weekdays.
Last night the Hills family invited me along to the annual Independence Day cookout at the Chevy Chase Country Club. I am not exactly country club material, and always feel like an impostor at those things -- but it was a beautiful evening, and the fireworks were spectacular.
Megan's nephews, aged 14 and 10, are a riot. They played Crossword Dice with their uncle and cousin, keeping score on an old index card that had been packed away with the dice.
"Who the heck is Psycho Sam?" asked the 10-year-old, reading the players' names from an earlier game.
"Uncle Sam's evil twin," said the 14-year-old.
Uncle Sam's evil twin seems to be a little too busy these days to be playing Crossword Dice -- but the United States is still a dream of freedom and hope, and I'm always grateful to be an American. Happy 4th of July, everybody; happy birthday to my old friend John Erath; and happy anniversary to Eileen and Tony, who got married in Yorkshire eight years ago today.