"The Girl Who Took Lessons"  
Playboy August 1988.jpg
Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance Playboy Magazine
Collected Kaleidoscope
The Best of Harry Turtledove
Genre(s) Marital drama
Publication date August, 1988

"The Girl Who Took Lessons" is a short story by Harry Turtledove. A domestic drama with no speculative elements, it was originally published in Playboy Magazine in August, 1988 and was later reprinted in Kaleidoscope, 3xT and The Best of Harry Turtledove.

Plot Summary[]

The story follows the marriage of Mike and Karen Vaughan, specifically their hobbies. When the story opens, we learn that Mike's hobbies tend toward more sedentary habits, such as reading or tropical fish. For Karen, taking lessons is her hobby. During the years of their marriage, she took classes in law for non-lawyers, cake-decorating, horseback riding, French cuisine, waltzing, and spreadsheets, among other things. On occasion, Mike would participate in a class with Karen, which is how he learned to waltz. However, these educational pursuits have taken their toll on the Vaughans' marriage, particularly their sex life.

After an extended business trip to Chicago, Karen returns home to Mike with a surprising sexual passion. After a round of intercourse, Mike comments that Karen must have been "taking lessons." Karen agrees, as she had an affair while in Chicago. She and Mike get a divorce; she files the appropriate paperwork based on what she's learned from one of her classes.

Literary Comment[]

In the anthologized prints of this story, Turtledove comments "I was shooting the breeze with a friend of mine one day when he said, 'Why don't you put me in one of your stories?' So I did, sort of. I don't write mainstream fiction very often. I don't sell it very often, either; this story makes once. Thanks, Bob."

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