The butler passed Coverly a cocktail on a tray. He had never drunk a martini cocktail before and to conceal his inexperience he raised the glass to his lips and drained it. He didn’t cough and sputter but his eyes swam with tears, the gin felt like fire and some oscillation or defense mechanism in his larynx began to palpitate in such a way that he found himself unable to speak. He settled down to a paroxysm of swallowing.
— John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle
😂 I think this is probably the passage that won The Wapshot Chronicle the National Book Award. It brings me great joy. I’ve shared my love of martinis with first-timers who inevetibly, after the first sip, and the watering eyes and the involuntary grimaces, ask, “Jesus, are they always this awful?” Cheever captures that first time brilliantly here.