I HAVE a plan. I'm going to open a fruit stand. It will be called "Oranges Is Us."
The idea came to me while I was listening to Oliver North testify before the Iran-contra committees. With an unshredded North memo in hand, Counsel John Nields read the following:
"If these conditions are acceptable tothe banana, then oranges are ready to proceed."
"What is 'banana'?" he asked North.
Colonel North answered, "The banana is Israel. Oranges is the United States."
Right then I could see it: Patriotic fruits, fruits for patriots.
I think it is what Oliver North would call "a neat idea."
You're going to ask how I'm going to finance it. Look, I haven't spent the last two months at the hearings without picking up a few pointers. Listen to Richard Secord and Albert Hakim, and you find out money is no problem. Look at the people who gave to the contras without even knowing what they were. The world is full of givers. When I tell them I'm trying to bring democracy to Nicaragua, I'll be in clover.
"Oranges Is Us" will have the highest prices in town. Markups, I find, are patriotic. Patriot Secord soaked the Iranians for a 600-percent profit. On the contra sales, he went soft and only ran up the price of guns -- to which he is deeply devoted -- 41 percent.
I'll charge $50 for a pound of peaches and people will bless me, because the "residuals", as Ollie calls them, will be going to the Nicaraguan democratic resistance.
Right by the cash register there will be a huge glass bottle, with a picture of Adolfo Calero on it. Every cent will go to the contras.
Of course, I will only sell produce from countries that have made what Secord calls "contra-butions."
They will be displayed in code. At the hearings, it's an awful social error to call a generous country by its name instead of its number. So don't look for a sign saying "Saudi Arabian dates"; it will say "From Country Two."
Sometimes I wonder why a generous giver like Country Two doesn't want to give its name. Modesty is attractive, but when you've forked over $32 million for a place that's about four time zones away, you might like to get credit. It could be, as Rep. Ed Jenkins of Georgia suggested the other day, that the 10 contra-loving nations want to keep it a secret because they don't want to give their folks any notions about democracy. You start talking democracy in Country Two and it could cost you your tongue. Similarly in Country Four, a huge place next door to the Soviet Union, you better not quote Thomas Jefferson too often if you want to keep your rice bowl full.
But to get back to business, I intend to let Country One (psst, it's Israel) in on the action. I think really sophisticated people would like to use its operational code name, which means I could have a bin for lemons labeled "Lemons from Banana," confusing as it may be.
Ollie -- make that "Mr. Goode" -- loves code names and they gave spice to life in the National Security Council during his day. But I wonder if it didn't get tricky at times. For instance, in one set of code names, Rome is "Chicago." So you tell your secretary, "Get me on the night lemon ('lemon' is also airplane) for 'Chicago'" and if she's not on her toes or has left her code key in her other pocketbook, you could end up at the "auditorium" (that's airport, dummy) at O'Hare instead of at Leonardo Da Vinci, with no moderate Iranians to talk to.
It's not for me to say, but I hope that one reform that will come out of these hearings is a uniform code-list. President Reagan is "Joshua" on one list and "Beethoven" on another; when George Shultz calls him up, does he say "Shalom" or hum a few bars from the Fifth Symphony? Shultz is "Moliere," by the way.
Anyway, I will have daily screenings of Mr. Goode's contra slide-show, the one the nasty Congress wouldn't let him put on in the Caucus Room. You buy $700 worth of fruit, you can see it for nothing.
You're wondering about security, aren't you? Don't. I've figured it out. I'm going to ask Mr. Goode to have his showdown with Abu Nidal -- the terrorist who terrorized him into accepting a security system and whom he challenged to a duel -- in the back room of "Oranges Is Us." If Abu Nidal shows up, I'll be ringed in tanks. If he doesn't show, not to worry.
When members of Congress complained that Albert Hakim wouldn't part with the $8 million -- or is it $12 million? -- in residuals that he stashed away in his Swiss bank, Mr. Goode said, "Give me 10 minutes with him." I'll sell tickets for that little session -- $1,000 a head, let's say -- and they'll each sit on a pile of melons from Country Three. When Hakim forks it over -- who ever says no to Mr. Goode? -- I'll take my exhibitor's cut, head out for the "auditorium" and grab the next "lemon" for "Chicago."
Mary McGrory is a Washington Post columnist.