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DEAR ABBY: Car seating arrangements in America are usually automatically determined by the social class of the people involved.

If one working-class couple picks up another couple, the husband and wife whose car it is will usually sit in the front seat, and the guest husband and wife in the backseat.

Middle class: The two husbands sit in the front, the two wives in the back. Upper class: The woman guest sits in the front passenger seat next to the host driver, while the hostess sits in the back with the guest husband.

Abby, I believe that this pattern was discovered in a sociological research study that was done more than 40 years ago. -- DONALD L. MIESEN, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR MR. MIESEN: Thank you for the input. I was not aware that this topic had been the subject of a sociological study -- until several readers wrote to tell me so!

A reader from Butte, Mont., wrote to say that you could tell which political party they belonged to by the seating arrangement: The Republicans usually sat with their wives, and the Democrats sat with the other fellow's wife.

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