Open Letter to Larry Emdur ⁠— Thanks for Teaching Me How to Count


I know what’s up now but as a kid, I didn’t have a clue about how numbers worked. I was so bad at math that my parents put me through NumberWorks tutoring for years and years and yet I’m still not sure about sin, cos and tan (but really, is anyone?!).

In primary school, though, my maths skills were at their worst when my classmates graduated to sums on a much larger scale — because beyond 100, I really had no idea what came next. It was embarrassing to know the words ‘thousand’, ‘ten thousand’, ‘hundred thousand’ and ‘million’, yet have no idea what order they came in.

I never told my parents the severity of my mathematic struggles because I knew they’d up my tutoring sessions (which I hated so incredibly much), and I became very good at side-eyeing my friend’s answers and nodding with sudden elation and understanding in a way that suggested to my teacher I was a kid-genius.

I resigned to never having a relationship with numbers, and then one day, when I was probably a bit eager waiting for The Simpsons to air at 6.00pm, I watched the show that would go on to change the way I counted forever: The Price Is Right.

“Come onnn doooooown,” announcer Shawn Cosgrove would bellow before the contestants (normally with names like Barbara, Keith etc) would make their way down the stairs ready to submit their monetary guesses via comically large carnival games. Household items would be presented with dramatic flourishes by infomercial models — all in the hopes of taking home a BRAND NEW ALFA ROMEO, YOU GUYS.

I watched it once, I watched it again. And before I knew it I was tuning in every night — not to see Karen come on down and win a jacuzzi, not even for Larry Emdur’s endearing hand-holding of every nervous contestant, but because for the first time in my life until that point, I was finally understanding numbers and the order in which they were meant to be structured.

And while this may have been easy for other kids my age, this was huge for me.

Hand-holding and Alfa Romeos.

Some 20 years on, I know maths tutoring and schooling had very little if no effect whatsoever in my understanding of numbers. It was Larry Emdur and The Price is Right that really did the heavy lifting and taught me what I needed to know to get past one of the more challenging times in my schooling career.

Larry Emdur is the reason I can count beyond 100. Larry Emdur kept me from humiliating parent-teacher conferences. Hell, Larry Emdur might be the reason I now write for TheLatch—. And thank Larry Emdur I do, because now I finally have the chance to thank him.

Larry, thank you for your encouraging smiles and unwavering support as I navigated my way around the ‘Line em Up’ and ‘Cover-Up’ stages. Thank you for helping me understand something that once felt so daunting and scary. You signed up to enthusiastically give away Alfa Romeos, but you thrived as a patient maths teacher for one numerically challenged girl instead. And I am grateful.

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