THE WORK WEEK begins on a potentially painful note - my semi-annual dental checkup. Not only no cavities, but my flossing technique received an A-plus from the hygienist.

Monday

Proceeding down Massachusetts Avenue to Rock Creek Parkway - the same route I traveled for 12 years to my congressional quarters - I muse that, in many respects, my life has changed relatively little since that day, four months ago, when I closed the door behind me at 1035 Longworth House Office Building. In some ways I feel a bit like the retired quarterback who does the color commentary during NFL telecasts - we seem to have the best of both worlds. I still am involved in the legislative process (already having testified before four subcommittees). My contacts with members of the executive and legislative branch continue. Speech requests are as numerous as ever. But I now have better control of my time: no quorum calls to answer; no constituent interruptions. And, most important, more time with my family.

Upon arriving at New Directions headquarters I convene a meeting of our eight-member staff to develop our program priorities for the remainder of the year. Citizen interest groups , I find, not only preach but practice egalitarianism. Thus, decisions are derived through consensus.

Several hours then are devoted to completing the details of a series of congressional dinner discussions which New Directions will sponsor jointly with the African studies program of the Johns Hopkins Scholl of Advanced International Studies.

At 6 p.m. I stop by the Council on Foreign Relations to hear the president, Winston Lord, review his most recent trip to China. After the speech, one paticipant privately opines that the Chinese leaders' view of the world, as related by Lord, reflected the scriptures according to Prof. Kissinger, not Chairman Mao.

Tuesday

Two productive hours are spent with six Washington-area New Directions members. We agree to establish a Volunteer Lobby Corps patterned after the League of Women Voters' successful operation. Abraham Lowenthal, chairman of the Latin American program at the Woodrow Wilson Institute for Scholars, joins me for lunch at the Capitol Hill Club. Abe fears that our relations with Latin American nations are deteriorating because of our inattention to the global economic issues which so concern them.

Tom Popovich, my former staff assistant on the International Relations Committee, meets with me at 3 p.m. to go over the outline of a paper (on the Maghreb) which I will present next week to British, Canadian and American parliamentarians attending an African conference in Easton, Md. Before leaving for the day I call my former colleague , Sen. Larry Pressler, to confirm our June 5 luncheon appointment. Larry plans to give a speech on the SALT treaty and asks for any insights which I might provide.

Wednesday

I set aside the morning to draft my observations of last month's six-day speaking trip to Hamburg and London sponsored by the International Communications Agency. Ironically, had I taken this same tour last year, I might have been accused of "junketing." But now that I am a private citizen, this government-financed visit to Germany and Great Britain is heralded as a "cultural exchange."

Even though the District of Columbia Committee, on which I served, authorized billions of dollars for the Washington subway system, I never had an opportunity to use it during my congressional tenure. Now I find it indispensable. On my walk from Farragut North Station to the White House, I realize how isolated I had been on Capitol Hill. This afternoon, for the first time, I notice the good use Washingtonians make of their parks during the noon hour.

Several of us gather in the Roosevelt Room to hear Anne Wexler detail the highlights of SALT II. As a prospective administrationally, I am a frequent White House visitor these days, more so than as a congressman. The group decides to reconvene next Wednesday, at which time each organization will outline its SALT promotion program.

After returning to the office, I place calls to several New Directions patrons. Now that I am out of government, "meeting a payroll" has taken on greater significance for me.

My wife, Barbara, is awaiting me when I arrive at the Washington Club to help our neighbors, Ray and Anne Awtrey, celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. With constituent visits behind me, I am more faithful in my attendance at neighborhood gatherings. Barbara, therefore, no longer is confronted with the question: "Is there really a Chuck Whalen?"

Thursday

Late in the morning I walk four blocks to my old stamping grounds, the Longworth Building, to meet Edie Wilkie for a cup of coffee. Edie is executive director of Members of Congress for Peace Through Law, a bicameral, bipartisan organization which I chaired during the 95th Congress. We plan to work closely on issues with which our two groups might become involved.

For the first time since I left office I return to the House floor, this time to participate in ceremories sponsored by former members of Congress. I exchange greetings with many old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen for years. Fraternity transcends party and ideology whenever "lame ducks" gather. I also use this occasion to conduct a little business. Charlie Vanik apprised me of his plans for handling the multilateral trade negotiations package, which New Directions supports. I remind Dave Obey, chairman of the Democratic Study Group, that I will call him in a couple of weeks for coffee.

During our Capitol Hill Club luncheon, I ask Gov. John Gilligan, former AID director, to become actively involved in New Directions. Jack promises an answer as soon as he decides which of several pending job offers to accept. Somehow our conversation drifts to the "Game of the Century" - Notre Dame's 18-13 victory over Ohio State in 1935 which, as high school students, we both witnessed. While these two Irishmen may have had party differences in later years, there is no disagreement as to which team we supported,

Since Barbara is "under the weather," I squire my 12-year-old daughter, Anne, to the Stuttgart Ballet's presentation of "Lady of the Camellias" - a stunning performance. I am pleasantly surprised to have the wives of two Harvard Business School classmates - Dee Collins and Frances Petersmeyer - seated next to me. Dee, whose husband,Jim, entered the Congress a year after I did, reconfirmes the wisdom of my retirement decison. "Jim is so exhausted," she notes, "that we have decided to remain in Wasington this weekend rather than return to Dallas."

Friday

The staff will see very little of me today.A late-morning discussion with Townsend Hoopes, co-chair of Americans for SALT, focuses on how our organizations can work together to generate grassroots support for the treaty. From Tim Hoopes' office I stroll to the Inter-American Development Bank, where I preside over a seminar considering "How to Build Support for International Development." I warn that creating "political will" requires more than "interfacing" and a "consensus of consciousness,"

My next stop of Westbrook Elementary School on Bethesda, which is hosting its annual spring festival. After sharing box suppers with Barbara and my two grade-school daughters, Anne and Mary, I head up Massachusetts Avenue to American University. There I address an arms reduction conference on the subject: "Disarmament as a Part of a Broader Foreign Policy." After concluding my remarks I dash home to watch the Bullets-Spurs seventh and deciding game. The disappearance of my last fingernail coincides with Bobby D's winning basket.

At 11:05 p.m. I accept a collect call from my son, Chip, a freshman at Hamilton College. "Dad, I just saw the Bullets on national television.Can you get me three tickets for next Thursday's game with the Sonics?" At 11:10 and 11:15 p.m., similar requests were received, respectively, from 17-year-old Dan, our Glen Echo volunteer fireman, and 15-year-old Ted. Still unreported is the Deerfield, Mass., precinct, where 13-year-old Joe attends school. Joe probably is awaiting our weekly Sunday evening call to put the bite on us for Game 7.

And so to bed, anticipating a relaxing weekend in Washington with my real family instead of in Dayton, as was the case for so many years, with my "constituent family." CAPTION: Picture, Chuck Whalen, 58, retired from Congress in January after six terms as a Republican House member from Dayton, Ohio. He is now president of New Directions, a Washington-based foreign policy lobby. Before coming to Congress, he was a businessman, state legislator and professor of economics at his alma mater, the University of Dayton.