I don’t begrudge this Cubs fan his enthusiasm or his desire to express it, even in a way that feels like the visual equivalent of using plural first person pronouns when recounting the accomplishments of more athletic strangers. I just think he made some choices that shouldn’t be emulated. Let’s look at where this went wrong.

It’s the overambitious “1" that makes the whole thing instantly regrettable even before the season has played out, of course. A permanent bicep bumper sticker in honor of your favorite team’s notoriously futile history is fine. Throw a comma after 1908 to show the Cubs have better days ahead of them. Hell, toss a “20_ _” up there to show you’re future-focused while buying yourself an extra 80 years. But predicting an imminent World Series win for any team, let alone the Cubs, is a bit much.

Then there’s the issue of font choice. I like the comma after this mystery year—it’s like a post-credit scene that denotes an impending sequel with a cringe-worthy lack of subtlety. But why, then, the oversized “201_”? Does he not think they’ll win again in his lifetime? He could list future championships in tattoos of equal size going down his arm, but that sounds aesthetically awful and pretty limiting. Sure you’re confident about this team, Cubs_AMARE_FIDEM, but where will that enthusiasm be when the 2035 Cubs are fighting for their 20th championship in a row?! (I didn’t impose these exhausting standards; you did this to yourself.)


Finally, there’s the hedge. Dedicating your body to the ill-advised claim that the Cubs having put a great team together will end in a World Series win this year (which you shouldn’t—if you’re old enough to get a tattoo, you’re old enough to remember 2008) is at least a truly bold statement. Offering that you’re pretty sure they’ll win one in the next four years is tepid and ripe for regret. In the best-case scenario, the Cubs win the World Series this year and then what? You claim you sort of called it? If they win in 2019 do you say you had a hunch a few years ago that things were looking up? And if they don’t win at all this decade, what do you plan to do with that extra digit?

This last critique is the most important, and the one from which there is perhaps a lesson to be drawn. Ultimately, consider that if you feel the need to hedge, you maybe shouldn’t get a sentiment inked on your body permanently. Don’t get “I <3 [your girlfriend’s first initial]” on the cautious assumption that if things don’t work out you can always replace a Jennifer with a Julia. Tattoos should either be broad testaments to meaningful and hopefully immutable parts of your personality, or permanent souvenirs from some transient event or version of yourself. As with anything that lasts forever, before getting a tattoo, you’ll want to think through all the possible contingencies, and be ready to really commit.