I am reading the book "Aloft" By ChangeRae Lee, and I have the questions of the following 3 phrases.

  1. be exactly in your own skin
  2. the scale still hunched and human
  3. putting on a serious buzz
  4. in a rope line of tangos

I put the phrases in bold in the following excerpt. For #1, I looked up and found the phrase 'comfortable in your own skin' but I still do not get its meaning in this context. As to #2, I do not know at all what this could mean. With regard to #3, I may incorrectly interpret it. Does the #4 mean in winding way?

Could you explain the 4 phrases?

Thank you very much.

But none of it was unpleasant or even sad, and I can tell you that I felt more comfortable and at ease that evening on 149th Street than in all the years growing up there as a not unhappy youth, because when you're among others and don't have to be exactly in your own skin it can be the strangest blessing, not to mention the added effect of feeling an afterglow as warm-hued as Bobby Battle's. (Perhaps this explains my love of travel, because when you're walking along some quay or piazza or allee there's an openness and possibility and that certain intimacy with strangers which is near impossible on an American street or food court, the scale still hunched and human.) Guys were toasting me and making sentimental speeches about Bobby's honey singing voice and stunning bat speed, and the ladies were the ones who seemed to be putting on a serious buzz,as I'd be passed from one to another in a rope line of tangos


It is not a well written sentence. The phrase "not exactly in your own skin" does not make any sense to me in its context. Usually, to "be in your own skin" means not being artificial, being natural. So this seems to be in praise of acting unnaturally.

"The scale still hunched and human" refers back to European street scenes as opposed to expansive and therefore arguably not comfortable public spaces in the US. We used to call that a misplaced modifier. Such misplacements happen all the time in speech, but they lead to obscure writing.

"Buzz" as a slang term has various meanings, but here it seems to mean drunk or high.

"Rope line of tangos" seems to be poetical speech. The narrator is being "roped in" to dancing with a bunch of women, meaning being compelled to dance. And the dances seem to be all (or mostly) tangos, in other words a long series of tangos. There may be a play here on "conga line" as well.

  • I don't think that "rope line of tangos" is related to the expression "roped in." I think it's related to the expression work a rope line, which refers to a celebrity or politician individually greeting a large number of fans/supporters, one at a time. – Canadian Yankee Jan 13 '19 at 19:47
  • She's called Chang-Rae, not "ChangeRae". It's a Korean name. – Michael Harvey Jan 13 '19 at 19:48
  • @MichaelHarvey - He is called Chang-Rae. The novelist who wrote Aloft is male (and Korean-American, as you said). – Canadian Yankee Jan 13 '19 at 20:58
  • @Michael Harvey I do not see where I made any mention the author's sex or name. So I am confused. – Jeff Morrow Jan 13 '19 at 21:21
  • Sorry, Jeff, I should have put my comment under the original question. Also I got the sex wrong. – Michael Harvey Jan 13 '19 at 21:36

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