WHAT’S YOUR STORY?: Lagani’s story: changing his priorities

Zach Mills

Recently Richard Marshall Lagani, known by his friends as Buddy Lagani, sat at a small, round table in The Java House on the corner of Center and Main streets downtown – he’s been a regular there every day for almost two years.

In front of him rests a medium-sized, white coffee mug filled with the flavor of the day – “Death by Chocolate.”

He methodically raises the mug to his lips and quietly sips his coffee while he gathers his thoughts about why he feels he has a new perspective on life.

“I’m just trying to live,” Lagani said passionately.

Lagani confessed that about two months ago he didn’t feel he had done anything “directionable” with his life as a 22-year-old, broke college student. He comically described himself as a “drunk” and a “glutton.” He was unhappy with himself and his life.

“The reason my life was the way it was, was because I was a ‘media slave,'” Lagani said, referring to the culturally-conditioned impulse-buying habits he said many people develop from American media and advertising.

“Look like this! Buy this!” he said, with a sarcastic, witty tone.

After developing a materialistic driven agenda, Lagani began to neglect his responsibilities as an adult and student. He spent his money frivolously and skipped class frequently – and he made sure to mention that he hasn’t been to English class in a month.

“I wanted the Miller Lite life rather than the academic life,” he said laughing.

Just then several people entered The Java House and Lagani jovially greeted each of them by first name. He then leaned back in his chair and propped his left foot on the empty seat beside him. The atmosphere smelled of gourmet coffee and cigarette smoke. Lagani slowly stroked his bald head and then, almost subconsciously, he twisted his brown goatee gently with his fingers.

“I’ve realized to think for myself, and question authority,” he said. “You really have to reclaim your identity. It’s important to choose your own path.”

Lagani’s path has involved giving up smoking, becoming a vegetarian, consuming less alcohol and even giving some of his “materialistic” things away.

And his new lifestyle has had a profound affect on his pocketbooks.

“A quarter of my annual income went to liquor and Steak ‘N Shake,” he said.

But now Lagani says he has changed for the better.

“It’s probably the most enlightening two months of my life,” he said. “My priorities have shifted.”

“My priorities are in flux,” an ear-hustling customer joked in the background.

Lagani paused as he acknowledged the spontaneously comedic, yet polite interruption. He smiled big and continued, “I have a better understanding of my place,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that I’m living the way I ought to, but I feel I have a better understanding of how one should live.”

Each week, Zach picks a random person from the student directory and calls them to ask, “What’s Your Story?” His series runs every Tuesday. Zach can be reached at [email protected]