He buttered his bread and I took a sip of my soda while my eyes scanned the room. Deep conversations and laughter buzzed all around us while Shawn and I sat and waited for our food to come.

He buttered his bread and I took a sip of my soda while my eyes scanned the room. Deep conversations and laughter buzzed all around us while Shawn and I sat and waited for our food to come.

He cleared his throat. “Boy, it sure is hot outside today.”

Really? It’s come down to the weather now? I looked at my phone, checked into Facebook and captioned it “Date Night!” without mentioning the fact that we were sitting in silence.

I usually love silence. The absence of sound, other than a ticking clock or that weird noise the washing machine makes when I forget to take something out of a pocket, is like therapy.

And I really didn’t know why we had nothing to say. Everything was great. The kids hadn’t fought all day, which could be because they were spending the day separately at friends’ houses, but I still counted it as a win.

And on top of all that, I was at 28 days without screwing up the checking account. That means it was 29 days ago when I announced an extra $130 had mysteriously appeared in the checking account.

Ten pounds of Taco Bell and a pair of new shoes later, we all wandered around the house trying to figure out what happened to the Wi-Fi. And that’s when we discovered never to trust checking account errors — unless they are in the bank’s favor.

So, many things have happened in the 13 years we’ve been married, but silence isn’t usually one of them — because no matter what is happening in our life, there has always been something to say about it.

That’s not to say we don’t often sit in comfortable silence while I work and he plays Candy Crush on Connor’s tablet or when we are driving down the road enjoying the scenery. There are also moments we sit in angry silence but that’s after an argument when we’ve both said too much already.

Once we got lost on our way back from vacation because the GPS decided home was someplace in rural Wisconsin.

“Don’t blame Tom-Tom. I’m pretty sure he didn’t program himself,” Shawn said while making a u-turn to avoid a pond.

We then griped at each other while learning to read a map to the nearest Walmart where we bought a new GPS system. Her name is Garmin and she saved our marriage.

Her soothing voice and gentle direction filled the car as we quietly drove the rest of the way home.

But we were now experiencing a different kind of silence — awkward silence. It’s my least favorite of all the silences, and I’ve noticed this tends to happen to us while we are alone in restaurants. If we go to the movies, walk around downtown and window shop — or just about anything else — we are our usual silly selves. But when we get dressed up and face one another in a booth, it’s like we are on our first date again (except that we aren’t at Taco Bell on a nine-dollar budget).

This has always bothered me as I look around at other couples enjoying kid-free evenings while we sit and avoid eye contact. Is there something wrong with us? Why can’t we laugh over dinner, trade bites of each other’s dishes, and then share a dessert?

“Why are we so weird at restaurants?” I finally asked him.

Shawn shrugged. “I didn’t know that we’re weird at restaurants.”

He never even noticed. While I mulled over fundamental problems in our relationship, he just thought about how good the spinach artichoke dip was. As I looked around and compared us to everyone else in the room, he was comparing prices on the menu.

We spent the remainder of dinner discussing and laughing about how awkward we are, and he even offered me a bite of his shrimp pasta (after I told him to). For one night, date night was everything I hoped it could be.

And then the waitress came over, whispered something in my ear, and just like that we were back to zero days that I didn’t screw up the checking account. That’s a whole different kind of silence.

Meg Duncan has lived on the same corner in Hannibal for most of her thirty-something years. Raising two boys and one husband, she writes about real life because it is far better than fiction. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.