I came home last night from playing a couple of sets of tennis, and I was sore. A nice hot shower cleaned me off, but my middle-aged body was still aching. I went down to the kitchen, where I shuffled across the floor to the refrigerator looking for something to eat while mumbling something to myself.
That’s when it hit me. I’m Ozzy Osbourne. And you may be Ozzy, too.
Watching “The Osbournes” on MTV every week, I’m struck by how relatable this guy’s life is. Sure, he’s a rock star burned out by too many chemicals, too much booze, and too many years on the road. But that’s not where I see him as a mirror of the middle-aged American male.
Ozzy has many of the same problems many of us do. His body isn’t exactly in tip-top shape, so he seems to be moving in slow-motion. He’s clearly not in charge of his own house. His two teenagers constantly present him with problems he’d rather not deal with, but which all parents eventually face, from tattoos to drugs to sex to loser friends. He’s sick of having to clean up the droppings from the various family dogs, which his kids should do, but don’t. He goes to throw something away in the kitchen trash, and whoever emptied the last bag didn’t replace it with a new one, so he has to go find one and put it in himself. He wants to watch a DVD, but the newfangled remote control system that his son has set up is so convoluted that he can’t get it to work.
This might seem like the makings of truly mundane television, but like “Seinfeld” before it, “The Osbournes” is about all the boring daily things that we all have to deal with. The difference is that what we’re watching really happened, unscripted — and it’s very cleverly put together in post-production. It’s also the highest-rated series in MTV history, drawing over six million viewers a week!
The clear head of the household is Ozzy’s wife, Sharon. I had the pleasure of meeting both of them about 20 years ago when I interviewed Ozzy on my show (yes, he really does have “O-Z-Z-Y” tattooed on his knuckles). Sharon stood off to the side, overseeing everything.
Quick sidebar: during that interview, Ozzy’s speech wasn’t as slurred or obscenity laced as it is now, but from the look in his eyes, he was fairly, um, glazed. I asked him if he would be screaming the famous opening line of “Crazy Train” that night in concert, and he replied that he would. I asked him if he could demonstrate it for my audience right then and there, but he demurred, explaining that “I’ve not got my preparatory materials handy.” Sharon turned to him and said, “Don’t tell people that!!”
It was clear then and it’s clear now that she runs both his professional and personal lives, and he’d be lost without her. On the MTV show, rarely do more than a few minutes go by without Ozzy being confounded by something, followed by his shouting “SHARON!!!” so she can come in and take charge of whatever the problem is. These scenes hit home with American men because our lives are just like that. If you doubt me, try this little test. Ask any husband to tell you where five common items are in their house. For example, let’s go with a spare three-way light bulb, a cookie cutter, a vacuum cleaner replacement bag, a heating pad, and a spare roll of masking tape. I’ll bet you that, if he’s lucky, the guy can only find two or three (most likely by trial and error) without having to ask his wife. Of course, she can take you directly to all of them, because she is Sharon!
Totally relatable in my house, as another anecdote from My Life As Ozzy illustrates.
My wife went out with some friends when I came home last night. So, after getting our daughter in bed and having something to eat, I plopped myself in the living room to watch some TV. Naturally, the phone rang, and when I answered it, a man said, “Mr. Harris, I’m from the landscaping contractor. Your wife called to get an estimate on doing something with your patio. Can I talk to you about this?”
I had to tell the guy that, no, we couldn’t talk about it, because I didn’t know what he was talking about. Didn’t even know we were thinking of doing anything with the patio. In my mind, as long as the patio remains parallel with the earth’s crust, there’s not much we should do with it. Apparently, someone else in my family felt otherwise. “SHARON?!?!?!”
On the other hand, when it comes time to set the PVR to record something (e.g. “The Osbournes”) it’s her turn to shout for me. That’s when I do my Ozzy shuffle into the living room and get it done.