Afternoon Delight: The Varying Meanings Throughout the Years

Afternoon Delight: the varying meanings throughout the years

My mom loved to listen to music. Sundays were a day for us performing her favorite tunes. I was so embedded in her musical world that I barely knew of the popular music of my time.  I knew Elvis and Patsy Cline better than Michael Jackson or Billy Ocean.  One song that she played was Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band that was released originally in 1976 but it was on my mom’s ‘80s playlist.  She always had a gleam in her eye when we listed to that music as if she was in on a secret that I had no clue about. Which was pretty much true.   I had no idea what the song was about. I thought the Afternoon delight song was about taking a nap which did sound delightful. The problem was that I never could take naps.  I still can’t and I’m still envious that can take an afternoon nap.


As the years went by, I slowly forgot about that Afternoon Delight song as I got more embedded within popular culture.  My playlist contained more Madonna and the Police than it did Elvis and Hank Williams Jr.    During my college days at Vassar, I went nearly every afternoon to the Rose parlor to hear the piano player, drink tea, and eat cucumber sandwiches.  To me that was a pure afternoon delight.  I was reminded of that song again but didn’t bother to learn the lyrics.


A few more years passed and then I was working at the US Department of Justice.  The amount of apathy, anger and laziness amongst so many of the employees astounded me.  Colleagues were suing each other, bosses were smoking in their closed offices and many sat reading the newspaper all day long. There were also a couple of those that took long lunches.  I started to wonder what was going on. I would take walks around the Smithsonian Mall at my lunch time in order to stay fit and mentally alive.   Then I learned of a few colleagues who would take long lunches together.  I then understood what that Afternoon Delight song actually meant and I felt embarrassed that it took the shenanigans of my colleagues to finally get the meaning of that song.

Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up an appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon delight
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ingite
And the thought of rubbin’ you is getting so exciting

Four years ago, Billboard named “Afternoon Delight” the 20th sexiest song of all time. But it has also been listed as one of the worse songs ever.   Recently, I have developed a fellow-mommy relationship with my next door neighbor.   She drops her son off for an hour to play with my son and then I send my son off to her house to play with her son for another hour. This exchange brings a new meaning to the phrase afternoon delight.  These days afternoon delight refers to that free time where no screaming kids are around and I can just eat a block of Muenster cheese and watch Arrow.  It’s a time of mindless silence.


Afternoon delight started off as a Sunday sing-along growing up and morphed into tea and crumpets and morphed again into cheating colleagues. Now, the song represents my moment of zen and is part again of young popular culture in that it was recently featured on the television show Glee when parodied as a song about the British Angel Delight dessert.   I guess I was not that far off years ago.


What’s your afternoon delight?

6 replies »

  1. Isn’t it funny how something so simple as a song can bring back a flood of memories? I remember Afternoon Delight. It was a song I remembered on the radio that I never gave a second thought to until now.


  2. I’m now thinking of the scene in the movie Anchor Man where all of the news team is singing this song in harmony; it’s going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day! My afternoon delight is an empty house and a head full of things to write about! Enjoyable post!


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