Kissing Backwards | Julie Marchiano

Julie’s story was told as part of Miss Spoken’s October 2015 show. The theme was Sex Ed, and she’s at the 35:03 mark. 

My sexual education started with my first kiss at 14. My neighbor Justin was 16, drove a Mustang with the vanity plate “JUSTANG” on the back, and kissed me while I was sitting in his lap on a sidewalk. So, like, from behind. I had braces, and he had one muscular arm and one flabby arm because of tennis. So maybe I false-started.

I dabbled in the dark art of rapid tonguing for a year until I met my first, lame, and first lame boyfriend at a Drama Club meeting my sophomore year of high school. We’ll call him Bryan. Bryan was a senior, and a lot of kids at school called him “The Narc” because he looked about 40 years old. He was 6’4”, and that’s where the sexy descriptors end—he was balding yet hairy, overweight, and had like, double rows of teeth in his mouth like a fucking shark. He looked like shitty Joey Fatone from NSYNC. I had just lost 20 pounds over the summer and was feeling confident at the start of the school year, but still possessed some of that fat teenager low self-esteem (I think I still have it)–he was just right me for at that place and time.

I’m speaking negatively about him now, but of course I didn’t him that way then. I thought he was reasonably out of my league, and I worked to get his attention over those first few weeks of school. A club outing to see another school’s fall production solidified our relationship, as I took our flirting to the next level by giving him a kiss, his first (I was very experienced at this point— as you may remember, I had already kissed backwards). Our first romantic encounter happened when he dropped me off that night in his truck, one of four cars he drove over the course of our relationship. (Pay attention to the cars, this will come back later.) Ryan’s thing with cars was as follows: he would crash one, pick and choose which of his parents’ vehicles he wanted to drive in its place, then got a tricked-out new one later. This is a guy who, when he moved from Ohio to North Carolina, told his mom he didn’t want to start up at a new middle school and was homeschooled, no questions asked. A guy who frequently dropped me off at my part-time job at the mall when I was 16 but didn’t hold down a job until he was 22, while he was enrolled at his third college. He was spoiled and puffed up. He was religious and elitist. I think all of these things are important to know, because they provide evidence for my theory: I think if you’re a selfish person in your day-to-day, you’re probably super selfish and insensitive and weird when it comes to sex stuff. And he totally was. Theory proven, it’s a scientific fact now. Newton’s Law, whatever, onto the nasty stuff.

Ryan and I went through all of the bases, and it was a first for both of us. There was a lot of exploration in cars and our school theater’s light booth. Everything was like, really fucking meaningful, you know? All of that serious staring shit that you see in movies and softcore porn where people are in love. And we were, we really were in love. That’s why, I think, I trusted that what he was doing and what he was saying was…well, “correct”. You know? He watched porn and masturbated, so he must have known. And like, okay, as far as I knew at that point, fingering someone was just sticking some fingers in a hole over and over. He would want a blow-job but never went down on me, which was in line with my understanding:  girls gave head, but boys didn’t, and also girls gave head a lot. And girls were supposed to bleed the first time they had sex or maybe their virginity would be in question during a fight at a later date. To summarize, I really didn’t know I had a clitoris for 10 years. I knew it was there, sure, but to me it might as well have been an appendix because I was like Ha, come on, this is silly, what’s this doing here?

I can imagine what you’re thinking here: that two teenagers can’t possibly, really know what sex is, or at least what good sex is–he’s not so at fault in this scenario, and I am a little more at fault for entrusting him with my sexual education when I very much had the Internet. But the world wide web couldn’t replace the world around me:  as the oldest of three girls living in the South, a lot of responsibility for an actual sexual education came from my peers who had older siblings, and eventually my partners – at least, those that took the time to figure out what I liked. We were strongly urged to practice abstinence in health class. I couldn’t look at porn on my family computer, and besides girls didn’t look at porn! Or masturbate! I learned that the hard way through a friend, an unpopular girl who admitted to masturbating after the coolest girl in school, Jamie, had told a group of boys that SHE masturbated. Other girl (Elizabeth. Her name is Elizabeth. She has a name. I hope she’s doing well.) was ridiculed for daring to admit as much.


So, I never really charted that territory. I mean, even now at practically 30 I have still never really done it, double-clicked the mouse, played with the little man in the boat, shown myself a good time. I should. It would save me a lot of headache, literally. But no. Because of this one relationship, where I was told that I wasn’t orgasming right, I figured it was something wrong with me. Never mind that it was based on what this dude thought should work to make a girl cum–not like, cues or thumbs up from me, or any kind of input. No, I was wired wrong. I was unable to do it. So I continued not masturbating and thinking that way for 10 more years of sex.

Not with Ryan, of course. He dumped me on our year anniversary over Instant Messenger while he was away at college, then he started dating a younger girl at my school who I had to see every day. Then we got back together when I was in college and he made me pay for his gas to come see me. Then we were done. For 10 years after, with each partner who tried (like, one) to go down on me or manually stimulate me, I just told them to forget it, that it wouldn’t happen, I couldn’t do it. So, like, on top of having bad teenage and college sex that’s just like, standard, I was having ORGASM-LESS, bad sex.

It wasn’t until I turned 27,  after I let a clown on a cruise ship go down on me for like an hour, that I achieved my first orgasm. It was two years after that until I had another one, this time from my boyfriend, who is kindly helping me make up for all of that lost time. It’s not totally his responsibility, you know. I’m an adult now, I don’t share a computer, I am at the helm of my own sexual discovery vessel. And I’m still learning, even at almost 30. It’s just so much more fun to learn with someone. And that’s my biggest takeaway I think–that sex ain’t a lecture! It’s a group paper. You can’t be that guy who slaps his name on the project and drinks Shasta in the library while everyone else is studying. You can’t be Ryan and tell people they’re “doing it wrong” and then offer no solution. That guy fucking sucks, and I am just now making the connection that he’s a Republican.

julie marchiano A Chicago-based actor, improviser, and writer, Julie has been featured on a number of live lit shows, including The Paper Machete, Story Club, Is This A Thing?, and Miss Spoken. She is currently performing in her second revue at The Second City, Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno. Follow her on Twitter @juliemarchiano, or do a deep dive on

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