She's sitting there, sipping the morning's first cup of coffee, when the phone rings. It's a man with a provocative offer. And he doesn't even know her.

Would she like to buy his tickets to the Bolshoi?

No, she thinks to herself, those seats are in the nosebleed section. "Thanks but no thanks," she says.

Before the jolt of caffeine has rocked her awake, another call comes in. Then another. Throughout the day, responses to her newspaper classified advertisement -- "BOLSHOI BALLET. 1 ticket wanted for July 26 matinee or 2 tickets for any other performances call ..." -- trickle in steadily.

Nothing new here, thinks Jan Bowman, who has had experience in such ticket matters. Nothing out of the ordinary.

By Day 2, Bowman thinks differently. Now, people interested in buying -- not selling -- are calling to see if she can help them get tickets. Within days she's become a ticket matchmaker, a Washington Dolly Levi for balletomanes.

"I've been matching up people in Arlington, Alexandria and D.C.," said Bowman, slyly adding that she did get the tickets of her choice. "People thought they could get a ticket without a lot of hassle. They were wrong. I'm sure they are shocked."

They are also nervous, edgy, even irrational. But creative.

One wealthy woman, fiftyish, trekked from Safeway to Safeway in her BMW, posting index cards on announcement boards. Another Bolshoi fanatic considered for a moment -- maybe longer -- feigning a handicap to get one of the special half-price priority seats that went on sale June 28 and quickly sold out.

Art, as they say, can induce madness.

The catalyst behind the ticket desperation is advertising -- or the lack of it. Many of those now going to extremes to pull a ticket out of the sticky Washington air say they never knew the Bolshoi was coming. The Kennedy Center, sponsoring the two-week spectacular, says that's not its fault.

According to a Kennedy Center representative, the Bolshoi's engagement was first announced in June 1986 along with the rest of the 1986-87 season. A mail order advertisement then ran April 26 in The Washington Post, and the performances sold out in days. No extensive ad campaign was mounted because, from the Kennedy Center's perspective, one wasn't needed.

Gary Parks, news director of Dance Magazine, which has run four stories on the Bolshoi in the last six months, said the search for tickets in Washington might have been made more difficult by New Yorkers who were turned away from the troupe's recent run at the Met. "Couldn't get in in New York? Well, no problem, go to Washington," Parks said, was a line dropped often in New York dance circles.

Even being in a ballet organization -- one with contacts, sources and so on -- is of little help.

Elvi Moore, executive director of the Washington Ballet, said that half of her staff was lucky enough to get tickets. The other half, unfortunately, wasn't.

"Most people just waited too long," she said. "I guess a lot of tickets were done by mail. A lot of people from our organization wanted tickets, but there are none to be had."

And the price those without tickets are willing to pay?

"They say if there are any available, no matter what the cost, just let them know."

And has she ever seen such desperation?

"Well, when Misha {Mikhail Baryshnikov} first came, there was a problem, but it was never like this."

Like Bowman, Moore said she's received calls from those desperately seeking Bolshoi. Last week, for example, a man called "and he said he didn't want to bother me, but he thought I might have a line {on tickets}! I just laughed and said I was sorry."

"People here have the same problem everybody else has," said Pat Mosley, president of the Maryland Youth Ballet. "I hear people around here making noise all day long. We have bulletin boards right now covered with half a dozen notes -- 'Want tickets, will trade, will pay' -- and that's not usual. Right now, people are really being vocal."

Not only in Washington but elsewhere across the United States. Christina Jacomino of Melloul Travel in Coral Gables, Fla., represents a family of six from the Miami area that is planning a trip to Washington entirely around a Bolshoi performance.

"Well, we've gotten six calls, but most of those are only offering one ticket at a time," Jacomino said at noon on Friday. "I already have two tickets, but I need four more. These people really want tickets. Their daughter is a ballet dancer, and they want her to see this."

And if all fails and the tickets don't come through?

"Then they'll change their plans," Jacomino said bluntly.

While all attempts at ticket-finding are linked by sincerity, they differ in degree of desperation.

Bowman recalls the day last week when a young woman from the Soviet Union called her, distraught because she could not find a ticket for her aging father, who she said is ill, perhaps dying. One of the man's last desires, said his daughter, is to see the Bolshoi. Bowman tried to help her by funneling information her way, but did not know the outcome of her search.

"But I tell you," Bowman said, "she made such a passionate plea that I almost gave her my tickets."