Single Shot: Only the best sustain on Darwin Dating site

Last week’s cruelly hot weather almost did me in (it’s pretty bad when a single woman’s fantasies all begin to involve air conditioning), but after perusing the latest thing in online dating, I realized cruelly hot is what it’s all about these days.

At least it is for the folks at DarwinDating.com. For the uninitiated, Darwin Dating is one of several fresh online sites faithful exclusively to beautiful people or sweethearts or whatever you want to call those fabulous beings who never seem to have to worry about thinning hair or spinach in their teeth or what an old co-worker of mine used to call “lunch lady arms” (you know, the kind that keep flapping long after your arm has stopped).

Touted as an elite alternative to dating sites packed with “ugly, unattractive, desperate fatsos” (as they so charmingly refer to the masses on Match, Yahoo, Nerve, eHarmony and the rest of the “riffraff” sites), Darwin Dating promises “online dating minus the ugly people.”

Who, exactly, are these ugly people?

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Redheads and/or anyone with freckles, for starters. At least that’s what I learned when I embarked surfing around this special little pool. Also people with cackly laughs or webbed toes or anybody with teeth that aren’t ideally straight and gleaming white or clothes that might be a teensy bit out of style. Other traits found on the Web site’s “loser” list: non-symmetrical faces or figures, bald catches sight of, middle parts (i.e., with regard to your hair, they do want people with stomachs — preferably taut, sunburn, plane ones), ski-jump noses, saggy mounds, large gaps inbetween teeth (sorry, Letterman!), disproportionately large ears, and something truly distressing for many of us here in the Pacific Northwest, pasty skin.

Nosey as to whether the site was a joke or the real vapid deal, I determined to sign up, albeit with Darwin Dating you can’t officially join the fray until you’re voted in by all the other beautiful people, a process they call (predictably enough), natural selection.

Would the cool kids find me loathsome or sugary? Lovely or crap? A baboon or a stunner? It was time to find out.

In the name of research, I clicked to the “Join for free!” page and typed in my name and date of birth. And that’s when I discovered you can’t join the club if you’re over 35 because, as the FAQ page so diplomatically put it, “after 35, your looks tend to commence fading and we don’t want that on our site.”

Superb. I hadn’t even shown these people my photo and I’d already been voted off the island. Now they were beginning to make me mad. So I did what any normal red-blooded single would do: I lied. A few mouse clicks here and white lies there (sure, I was born in 1973), and an e-mail appeared in my in box like that impatiently awaited invite to Troy Sutton’s seventh-grade dance. “Welcome to Darwin Dating! If you are hot, thanks for joining up! If you’re ugly, we’re a little pissed off that you’re clogging up our servers, but you’ll be voted out soon enough.”

Now that I’d been permitted into the inward sanctum (at least for the time being), I found their clever little barbs much more pleasurable. And that went dual for the “possible matches” the Web site sent my way.

Scrolling through my cool hit list, I began to understand the allure of Darwin Dating. Gone were the mullets, the porn-star mustaches, the manly poses beside pickup trucks and outboard motors and large dead fish. There were no badly doctored wedding pics here, no batches of blurry-faced dudes with evergreens rising out of their caps like extras dressed for the Burnham Wood scene in “Macbeth.”

These guys were, in a word, gorgeous — and I hated myself just a little for giving way to the Web site’s siren song of superficiality.

After all, the idea behind these fresh prettier-than-thou sites — BeautifulPeople.net, DreamMatches.com, Hotenough.org, TheBeautiful.co.nz — was like some crazy experiment in “master race” dating. No, they weren’t possessed and operated by Nazis, but their promise of an “above average dating pool” where you could “breed with your own kind” seemed slightly reminiscent of past forays into eugenics.

Plus the entire exclusivity thing had a familiar fourth-grade taint. Fine, they didn’t want “ugly” people. Or anyone over 35. Or fatties. What sign would be tacked to the clubhouse door next? NoFourEyes.com? CreepyCootiesNotAllowed.net?

Obviously, physical attraction is a key element when it comes to the dating and mating game, sadly, for some, it’s the only element. But to gleefully embrace the notion that “beauty equals worth” — especially in a day and age when our aesthetic leans strongly toward breast enhancements, Botox injections and steroid-inspired musculature — seemed almost riskily shallow. If we continued to naturally select for cruelly hot beauty above everything else — brains, humor, kindliness, substance — were we fated to become a world utter of fabulously vain morons? An uber-hot idiocracy?

As I reaD some of the profiles, I wondered if we were headed there already.

That’s when the e-mail arrived. It was from Darwin Dating telling me that while I hadn’t been rejected (yet), they didn’t like the picture I sent them: “Yep, that’s an ugly shot, all right. Do you have a better one?”

I most likely did, but I determined it was time to end my brief sojourn into the Valley of the Beautiful People. After all, I didn’t belong there. I was too old, too flawed, and I had an annoying tendency to value goofy things like personality and a love of literature over flawless six pack and a passing resemblance to Lindsay Lohan.

These people were hot, to be sure, and some of them were “indeed, indeed, truly brainy,” like Morgan, who spent most of his days “dumbing down” his language so that “regular people” could understand what he was talking about (how tiresome for the lad). Most of them, however, seemed entirely too caught up in their own bootyliciousness (“I love to take photos,” wrote Ashley, “mainly of myself”).

Yes, they were pretty, but as my mother used to say, they were also pretty total of themselves. Like hot weather, that got old real quick.

But it most likely was a good thing that sites like Darwin Dating were cropping up all over the place. Now, the so-called beautiful people could self-select until the end of time, while the rest of us chimps could leisurely (some might even say thoughtfully) sift through the other sites looking for someone who was a bit more . oh, what was the word?

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