The best way to present this to you is just as it came to my eyes. "I have completed a scientific study which might be of interest to you," the letter began.

"Several days ago, your colleague Henry Mitchell stated in his column that women, as a general rule, do not close doors when leaving a room; men, for the most part, do. According to my study, Mitchel is absolutely correct. f

"My study was made at George Washington University Hospital (where I am undergoing chemotherapy for cancer).

"During the past 10 days, several hundred entries to and exits from my hospital room have been made by females. This of course includes multiple entries and exits by the same persons, such as doctors, nurses, aides, waitresses, cleaners, library and gift shop representatives, and patients who have forgotten their room numbers.

"Fewer men have entered, but there have been enough of them to disturb my reading and sleeping, and enough to provide sufficient scientific control for my in-depth study.

"My findings are that 96 percent of the women leave the door open at least enough to let in corridor noises, and some 63 percent leave the door wide open. In contrast, 9.5 percent of the men leave the door open to any extent at all.

"I am now engaged in the second phase of my study: an analysis of motivation. I may not be here long enough to complete this phase, but will send you the results if they seem scientifically significant.

"It would also be interesting to determine whether the open-door syndrome applies in equal measure to rooms occupied by female patients. Obviously, I am not in a position to gather data on this point, but my conjecture is that women who work in hospitals discriminate and give female patients more protection than they give male patients.

"If you know of any other scientific studies of these phenomena, I would appreciate your letting me know where they were published."

The signature, I was started to note, was that of my longtime friend Randolph Feltus.

When the initial shock of learning that he is ill and hospitalized had abated somewhat, I found myself smiling ruefully at the placid good humor with which Randy takes all of life's ups and downs.

In reply to your question, Randy, I can tell you that very little has been published on this subject. Many years ago there was a fellow named Bilbo or Bill Glo or something like that who did a series of columns about people who don't close hospital doors, but there were fundamental differences between his work and yours.

The other fellow made no distinction between men and women. He just raised hell about everybody who contributes to the racket in hospital corridors and everybody who permits these noises to be inflicted upon helpless patients, many of them in pain, under sedation, and hoping desperately for a bit of sleep. He also had a few choice things to say about people who come bursting into hospital rooms at 5:30 a.m. to replenish the supply of ice water for a patient who never touches ice water. He described how they open the door by hitting it while in full stride with approximately the force that Mean Joe Greene would use on an enemy lineman who had kneed him on the previous play.

In an effort to help you, Randy, I tried to get you transferred to Children's Hospital, where concern for the patient is uppermost in everybody's mind.

Things were moving nicely until I showed them a picture of you.

They took one look at your white mustache and said, "Sorry. He doesn't qualify."

Can you imagine that? After all these years, I discover that Children's Hospital discriminates against white mustaches! VARIATION ON A THEME

Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.) is introducing a bill suggested by many District Liners. Of the $8 billion in Iranian assets we hold, Aspin wants to declare $10 million forfeit for every day the Iranians continue to hold our hostages.

James T. DeWitt of Fredericksburg offers a variation on this theme: Let's set aside a substantial portion of the $8 billion and offer it as a ransom or reward to any person, group of persons, or government that delivers all our hostages to a safe place, unharmed -- no questions asked. Payment could be guaranteed by a Swiss bank or the United Nations.

DeWitt's reasoning is that if diplomacy can't get the hostages freed, perhaps greed can.

It's an interesting suggestion. There may be many things wrong with it, but I see only one. It invites reckless free-booters to risk the lives of the hostages on what might prove to be harebrained schemes. With a fortune at stake, Tehran's unemployed street people might be tempted to try a plan that would get everybody killed.