Donald Trump famously stumbled his way through the Pledge of Allegiance as president, but you probably remember it verbatim from recitations at school. All at once, everyone would lurch to their feet, place right hand over their heart, and intone those solemn words with all the passion of an accountant listing itemized tax deductions. You felt, in short, like a machine forced into compliance.
Even if you never felt the stirrings of genuine patriotism, you still have an opportunity to put the Pledge to good use — thanks to a delightful TikTok trend that anyone can partake in. And it should play especially well at Thanksgiving, a time of obscure family ritual.
All you need is a newcomer at the table — say a significant other, meeting everyone for the first time — or any guest who hasn’t been at the house for the holiday before. Once you’ve got food on the table, have the whole group (minus your unsuspecting victim) stand up and start the Pledge as if it’s customary before dinner. Record how the outsider reacts, and remember: this works best if the rest of you manage not to laugh.
Oh yeah, the camo shirt and hat really sell it. And the twirl at the end is inspired. But the key is the subtle peer pressure that arises when someone is — almost unconsciously — trying to blend in. It’s a compelling test of human behavior that has taken off on TikTok in the past few weeks, and the best part is, once you let the mark in on the joke, they’ll feel truly welcomed into your home. Among all the viral internet pranks that are stupid, mean or dangerous, this one manages to hilariously skewer MAGA-style patriotism while remaining a wholesome, even affectionate gesture.
“My best friend, Roshni, has been dating a guy named Akkshay for around half a year now,” explains Wilfredo Manglapus Jr., who posted the TikToks above. “She also has never been in a serious relationship before, so she wants to make sure he’s the right one. Since I’d never met him before, I thought it’d be funny to do the Pledge of Allegiance prank on him that I saw on TikTok.
“I also realized it could be a funny way to see how nice and respectful he is around his girlfriend’s friends, even in the weirdest situations,” Manglapus continues. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he reacted differently, but the fact that he was still respectful shows he is definitely a nice guy! All green flags so far.”
You can play around with the concept, too. Bonus points to the guy who, after the Pledge was said, asked the table, “Everyone voted today, right?” Or, since election day has already passed, maybe you have the guts to pull this off in a Chili’s restaurant — and convince a waitress to join in. Having some kids around to join the performance doesn’t hurt, since they’re used to saying these words often; no doubt they’ll take special delight in tricking a stranger.
Whatever flourish you opt for, just make sure to underscore how absurd this oath is (more so when there isn’t a flag around to look at) and leave your friend wondering what the hell they’ve stumbled into:
Perhaps the best part of using Thanksgiving as an occasion for this gag is that it’ll spare you the platitudes of saying grace, or the awkwardness of each person announcing what they’re grateful for. The Pledge of Allegiance is nice and short, with no room for rambling as the mashed potatoes get cold. Shout out to America, now it’s time to eat.
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And fear not, Canadians: you may not have a compulsory vow like this, and you already celebrated your Thanksgiving last month, but you can always sing the national anthem to induct a buddy into your social circle.
Happy pledging, one and all. Stating your fealty to this silly nation will make the gravy taste that much better. Who knows? It might become a real tradition.