The name Bob Hope is a little like the name Coca-Cola. Chances are you could go to Papua New Guinea and find two out of every three locals nodding quickly: Bob Hope. Yankee funny man. So what would it be like to be this icon's granddaughter?

Miranda Hope is 16 years old and a junior at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, and what she has been calling Bob Hope nearly her whole life is not Yankee funny man but "Pops" or "Gramps." Although sometimes she'll lapse into a peculiarly formal, or at least slightly distant, "Hope." That seems to say a lot, in an unintentional way, and part of what it may say is this: You can never really get to know somebody the whole universe knows, even or especially if he's your granddad.

One of Miranda Hope's parents is a 12-hour-a-day Washington lawyer and the other is an executive for Mutual of Omaha. Neither is home right now. Miranda herself is a smart, quick, chatty, perky, semiwitty, unaffected and perhaps lonely kid who's got lots of homework to do. At the moment, after school, she's sitting cross-legged in her living room stroking a very long-haired cat and talking of a just-concluded overseas Bob Hope Christmas tour -- of which she happened to be a small but ecstatic backstage part.

And she says: "Hope's quite nuts for Kadota figs at breakfast, you know. Which are just nasty, by the way. Carries his own wherever he goes. That and Nescafe'. He tried to make me eat some of his figs one morning in the BOQ at Clark Air Base {in the Philippines}. It was our first stop after Hawaii. We had just played at midnight to about 15,000 servicemen. Incredible show. My room was right across from Gramps' suite. So here I'm trying to sleep in the next morning and Pops comes in about 9:30 saying, 'Honey, I'm going to teach you what a real breakfast is.' No way, no way on those figs."

And a moment later, again mixing the intimate with the quaintly reserved, she says: "Hope's famous, you know, for saving everything, every memento, of his USO tours. Well, really any tour. Not his cue cards, though. Barney McNulty, his cue card guy, has all my grandfather's cue cards. They may really be worth something someday. By the way, did you know we took 5,000 pounds of cue cards with us? I'm serious, 5,000 pounds. That's a lot of cue cards."

A lot of cue cards. What would Hope himself have to say on the uptake here, assuming he'd just made a stage left entrance, with golf club, into this tasteful Northwest Washington home to overhear the rapid talk of his proud, long-legged and blond-mussed grandchild?

A lot of cue cards, yeah, and I'm gonna tell ya, Miranda, honey, that works out to exactly 42 jokes a pound, or 210,000 gags. No wonder you and I had to go 27,000 miles around the world to get rid of those lousy jokes. Maybe I can sell the leftovers to Carson.

Nah. Tune in tonight and hear him for yourself. Miranda's grandfather, the former Leslie Townes Hope of Cleveland, is going to be cracking them, just spritzing them, on NBC for 90 minutes.

Tonight's show, in which Miranda Hope may or may not appear in cameo (she hasn't seen a tape of it yet), is a kind of greatest-hits, edited-down version of what in all probability was Bob Hope's final Christmas tour for far-flung American boys aching for home. That's a little like saying we're not going to have Christmas itself anymore, in that Hope, who'll be 85 in May, has been doing these red, white and blue overseas shows for the past 46 years. He's made 31 trips in four and a half decades, through World War II, Korea, Vietnam. John Wayne is dead, and Bing Crosby and Jerry Colonna must be playing golf somewhere on the back nine of heaven, but Bob Hope just goes on and on.

Here is a reference point for how long this man has been at it: In 1943 a well-known American writer covered the Bob Hope tour from London. His name was John Steinbeck, and he wrote with simple elegance: "Bob Hope drives himself and is driven." On that same tour Hope played a B17 air base in England. Clark Gable was on the flying lineup there.

Sometimes -- read Vietnam -- some of the press back home was not always so wonderful about the annual, or biannual, Hope Traveling Christmas Jokathon. The 1987 tour, which included playing two flattops in the Persian Gulf, was an eight-day tear in a C141 Starlifter, with an entourage of 80, one of whom was Connie Stevens, and another of whom was Barbara Eden, and still another of whom was 16-year-old Miranda Hope.

"What a waterhole!" cracked Pops, hitting a golf ball off the deck of the USS Midway. The guys cackled, though not like they wolf-whistled when Miss U.S.A. legged out.

Vic Damone didn't get to go. His kidney stones flared up.

On the tarmac in Van Nuys, Phyllis Diller had come to send the troupe off. She emerged from her limo in a miniskirted Santa suit that was up to here.

Miranda Hope says she is never going to forget this whole experience. Never.

Although not for the reasons you may think. "It had almost nothing to do with show business, and I want you to know it," she says flatly, no wit in her voice. "Certainly it had almost nothing to do with wanting to meet or be around show business people. I've met show business people before. I've been in my grandparents' house in Los Angeles when some famous people have been around. It's no big deal. Although, it is true, I am head of set construction at my school and was somewhat interested in how a really professional show is done. But this was a secondary motive by far. The real reason I wanted to go was to try and get to know my grandfather, you know, before -- "

She doesn't finish this, but instead seems to change direction. Swiftly. "He's 84 years old, right? So have you ever in your whole life ever heard of anybody who can do what he does at that age? Look, he can fly around the world in eight days, he can hit -- what was it? -- five countries, 27,000 miles, two aircraft carriers and a battleship in the Persian Gulf, not get any sleep, 65 hours' total flying time, my God, it was all just nuts. I never had more fun in my entire life.

"One of the kids in my school said, 'You're going? You're going with Bob Hope? I can't believe this. I hate you. I mean, I love aircraft carriers.' But anyway, I couldn't believe my Pops. I mean, I came home and slept for four days afterward. I got up to develop pictures and go to a New Year's Eve party. I never really slept once the whole time we were out there. Setting your watch was just a formality. It had nothing to do with whether you were hungry. Just totally moving. And who's leading the charge? My grandfather, that's who."

So she has sort of veered off here, and all of the foregoing has come out in an amusing teen's rush. But after a moment the teen, who seems a little more sensitive than most, says, coming back quietly to it: "It's true. I can't say that I know him, that I've ever really known him, but on the other hand I don't know that anyone really knows Bob Hope. How could you, really? Yes, there's a lot of reserve there. No, if he were here now, I would not get up and try to hug him. I mean, he's a kind of myth. He's a great American, isn't he? I'm so proud of him.

"Yes, there are bad parts to it. But I just saw this as my one chance to get to know him. There's always been reserve in him around family. I didn't go on this trip because I wanted to be around somebody famous. He's my grandfather. How many grandfathers do you have? I've known him my whole life, but I guess I haven't really known him, if you know what I mean. I guess I've known my grandmother, Hope's wife, a lot better. Her name's Dolores Hope -- you probably know that. They've been married 50-some years. You know, one day while we were over there, he mentioned her to me three times?

"But the point I'm trying to make is this: I knew that if I went on this tour there would be moments when we would just have to be put together. That's what I wanted. And it worked. I got to sit in the seat next to him on the plane a few times. I never really had something like this before. You see, my brother Zach -- he's a freshman at Harvard -- well, he's always had sports to talk about with my grandfather. You know, the Rams or the Dodgers. But I didn't have this. And I missed it. And so I decided to try to do something about it."

She adds, as a kind of postscript: "He's so giving. But, let's face it, work has always been number one with Bob Hope. And there are some bad parts to it, just like I was saying. There are bad parts to anything. I was really wanting to get to know the good parts."

What would be some of the bad parts?

"Well, if you want to know, I mean, just the kids who might be reading this, they may get the totally wrong idea. I've had people at my school come up to me and say right in my face, 'Oh, the only reason you got in here is because of your grandfather's name.' I get stuff like that all the time."

Bob Hope has four grandchildren; Miranda is the one who seized a moment.

Might the seizing of the moment have been a subconscious wish?

"No, no, I don't think it was very subconscious in me at all. Although I will say this. He had a skin cancer operation on his forehead not long ago, and as the trip went on, and he got more tired, I began to notice it got redder and redder. I was getting worried about that. I imagine that with his skin cancer, his eyes, his bad hearing, well ..."

Again she doesn't finish this. But says: "I think part of his success is that he has so much respect from people. He says, 'Do this. Do this.' He isn't rude. He doesn't order. But people do it immediately. I don't know, he must still feel he's pretty vital. His ability to bounce back is awesome. I don't know how he does it. I was a wreck, physically and emotionally."

Miranda Hope suddenly takes out a thick stack of 3-by-5 color snapshots. "I gotta show you my pictures," she says, and everything in the room is bright again.