I just received an invitation to the 1992 annual Governor's Ball, "A Fabulous Finale," to be held Saturday at the Little America Hotel. Actually, if you want me to be honest, I'm not certain I was invited. Well, OK, what I should say is that I'm certain I was not invited.

But that shouldn't matter because the invitation ended up on my desk.Actually, Richard Christenson, our visual arts and fashion writer, put it there. He said he would be out of town. I suspected that he could not afford to go, but I kept it to myself.

All I needed to do was fill out the bottom portion of the invitation and send it back so they would know I was coming. It would be fun, especially since it represented a slice of sentimentality - Norm Bangerter's last ball as governor.

And it would be my first time in attendance.

So I looked for the price. Hmmm - $1,500 for a table in the Grand Ballroom. Whoops! Have to keep going down the list - just a table - obviously not in the Grand Ballroom - $1,250.

It dawned on me that the whole table was designed for a company to purchase.

I could check one of the following - "I would like X number of tickets for dinner in the Grand Ballroom ($150 per individual ticket)" or "I would like X number of tickets for dinner (obviously not in the Grand Ballroom) for $125 per individual ticket.

But what ballroom was it?

Never mind.

In an unspecified ballroom for only $250 I could take my wife to the Governor's Ball! Oh, and there was one more checkoff - "I'm sorry I cannot attend the 1992 Governor's Ball but have enclosed a contribution of" - and there was a blank for me to fill in the amount.

It was clear to see that it would be a lot cheaper to stay home. It would be even cheaper if I didn't have an invitation at all.

My hands were starting to sweat now, and I started to think I would prefer to have the Governor's Ball in the State Capitol instead of a hotel - to recreate the feel of government.

On those grounds - not the Capitol grounds, mind you - I could refuse to go. It was just an excuse, but I was getting desperate.

So I decided to surreptitiously place the invitation on some other unsuspecting journalist's desk.

Susan Lyman-Whitney was not excited about it. I asked her if she would want to go if we split the cost. Two or even three people could pay for one seat at a table not in the Grand Ballroom.

Then we could take turns occupying the seat and eating the dinner.

Surely, there would be plenty of food for everyone. While one person was eating, the other two could wander, stopping to talk with interesting people. Maybe we could even take turns wandering into the Grand Ballroom.

I figured out the cost and found that it still came to $41.67 per person.

That's an awfully expensive meal when you're sharing it three ways. But who cares if you had the grand opportunity to attend the last ball for Bangerter!

Susan didn't swallow it. She said she'd been to a Governor's Ball before and thought she could pass it up. I couldn't get anyone else interested either. They said they were too poor.

I looked at the invitation one last time. Dinner is at 8, but the reception and dancing are from 7 p.m. until midnight. Maybe I could get a rake-off if I skipped the dinner and just came for the dancing.

But I couldn't figure out who to call for permission. The bottom of the invitation was supposed to be sent back to the "Governor's Ball Committee," but I didn't know who was on the committee.

I really didn't feel like calling the governor himself and asking him if it would be OK.

Fully realizing that my opportunity to attend the ball was slipping through my fingers, I finally just gave up and filed the invitation under "Bangerter's Last Hurrah - the ball that might have been."