Last week was a great one for the Nose--until Saturday, when a bunch of Portlanders with too much time on their hands nearly ruined a five-day weekend.

The Nose has been working hard and, to honor Martin Luther King, decided to call in sick Thursday and Friday. (Besides, his car is in the shop, and he's never figured out those bus schedules.) He turned on the answering machine, let the daily papers pile up, shoved his Measure 28 ballot back in the junk drawer and headed for the TV.

First stop, Wednesday night, was Fox and Man versus Beast, in which eating champ Takeru Kobayashi took on a Kodiak bear in a frankfurter competition (he lost) and 40 midgets (Fox called them "little people") were harnessed together to see if they could pull a DC-10 across the finish line quicker than an elephant could. (They, too, lost.) It made the Nose wish the folks at the local affiliate would stage their own version. Rasheed Wallace could square off with a Rottweiler, to see who can bite the hand that feeds him first. Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker could race a coyote, to see who first hits Los Angeles city limits. A couple of WW reporters could match skills with a pair of raccoons to see who gets to the bottom of a garbage can first.

After that it was on to Oprah and Oprah After the Show. The Nose watched The Man Show (do girls jumping on trampolines qualify as exercise for the viewer?) and Buffy and college basketball. He watched the Australian Open and "Hannity and Colmes." He watched that Canadian grandmother's sex-advice show (in which she pulls love toys out of the cutest wicker basket) and dozed through CNN headlines.

By Friday, the Nose was feeling pretty relaxed. Untroubled by concerns about the economy, shielded in the cocoon of his home from the cruel realities of AIDS, hunger, war, the inhumane treatment of cattle and the latest social-service cuts in Salem, the Nose was enjoying himself. And what's wrong with that? The Nose works hard, he pays his taxes, he commits no felonies and he even mows his lawn.

Then on Friday night, after he had sampled a bag of Howard's Crispy Fried Chicken Skins and several chunks of Snack'n Cheese To-Go, his six-pack of Coors Light fell off his TV table and onto his remote control, shattering it like Leonardo DiCaprio's hopes for a Golden Globe.

So on Saturday, the Nose borrowed his neighbor's Navigator and drove downtown, hoping to replace this most vital of appliances at Radio Shack. That's when he got stuck in a godawful traffic jam, the result of an estimated 25,000 meddlers marching the streets of Portland, protesting the possibility that we might have to go to war to preserve the very way of life the Nose had been so thoroughly enjoying over the past week. They were all ages, all colors, and they didn't seem too concerned that they were inconveniencing the Nose and hundreds of other law-abiding commuters.

What would otherwise have taken 20 minutes took three hours as a parade of yellow-bellies sauntered by with their offensive slogans, such as "Buck Fush," "No Hoily War" and, most troubling, "Which Gun Would Jesus Choose?"

At one point, a cabby, stuck on Southwest Taylor Street, summed up the Nose's feelings when he got out of his taxi, picked up a piece of discarded chalk and wrote, "I Protest Protests."

The Nose was still steaming when he got home. Don't these peaceniks understand the need for sacrifice? Don't they appreciate that our way of life occasionally requires us to do what is necessary? Can't they see things for the way they really are, rather than for the way they would like things to be?

It wasn't until later that evening, cleansed by a viewing of a week's worth of TIVOed Elimidate, that the Nose finally calmed down--and realized that the audience for this show easily outnumbers Portland's peaceniks. God bless America!