DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way of asking someone to refrain from singing, humming or whistling? In extended car rides, especially, I find listening to others' noise unnerving.
GENTLE READER: Generally what people do is to suffer as long as they can and then go completely to pieces and shout, "Will you stop that? That noise is driving me nuts. You can't even carry a tune."
Of course, this is neither proper nor practical. Once the hummer is startled into silence, the other people -- instead of being grateful -- will claim treacherously that they were enjoying it.
Miss Manners thinks it more advisable to catch the situation earlier, when you are still able to murmur, "I wonder if you would hum that for us later; just now, I'm trying to remember something."
The offender will, of course, reply, "I wasn't humming." But if you are able to contain yourself and say only, "Sorry, my mistake," you will be rewarded by his having to prove it.