Summer school. Cathy sits in front of her class, looking at couches online, distressed and checked out to the extreme. She forgets they're there until they ask her if she's planning on teaching them anything today. "Have I ever taught you anything, really? This is summer school, so I guess the answer's obvious. Anybody ever seen The Patriot? Its depiction of the American Revolution is about 20% accurate. At best. But if you understood this version as truth, you'd still know more about that time in history than 99% of Americans. And Mel Gibson is medium good. Enjoy."
Andrea is late again, to class, but since Cathy -- as Andrea says, doing a mean impression of their teacher at her scattered worst -- spends the first ten minutes trying to get to her point, she isn't worried about it. Cathy acknowledges the humor, as does the class, but up at the front she delivers another good speech, quietly but without kidding around. She loves a good shock.
"You can't be fat and mean, Andrea. If you're gonna dish it out, you've got to be able to lick it up. Fat people are jolly for a reason. Fat repels people, but joy attracts them. Now, I know everyone's laughing at your cruel jokes, but nobody's inviting you to the Prom. So you can either be fat and jolly, or a skinny bitch. It's up to you."
Cathy Jamison has, of late, learned that health risks and health warnings are very real. She is just as jealous of -- and in love with -- Marlene's age as she is Andrea's youth, or Adam's vitality, or Paul's innocence. What none of them yet understand is that the body is real, and can turn on you, and you never even know it. The mugger in your house. They think they understand the material world, the physical body, but they're only just versions of Sean: Willfully blind, empowered by that. There is a fight in Andrea that Cathy loves, and of which she is jealous, and which she intends to teach, and temper.
Mostly, Cathy Jamison loves to be shocked. Even if it's by herself. Ultimately the couch isn't about Paul Jamison at all. Ultimately, Cathy decided to stick with the self she already had, because it was a safe neutral, with a few good years still left in it. She turned the cushions over to hide the stains, and wondered if anybody would ever care enough to call the bluff, flip them over, discover the riot of color hidden below that safe, hardy neutral. But Cathy forgot that everybody has a couch of their own; that everybody is a riot of color just beneath the surface, and so busy hiding their own stains it's barely fair to ask them to come across to her side. To learn to speak German on the train.