Gardening was just something that you did in my family; and knowledge of alpines was absorbed by osmosis, even as a kid. So many visits to relatives' homes and many family trips involved gardens. Thankfully gardeners are pretty interesting people and rarely are they only obsessed with just plants - they have other interests that are pretty intriguing to a kid. Boots showed us girls containers with live salamanders; Harry had the trumpeter swans; Roger the parrots - there's always 'something else'.
Obsessed rock gardeners are inquisitive and alert to their surroundings, otherwise they would have never noticed alpine plants in the first place.
The difference between an alpine addict and a 'regular' person walking through our greenhouse in grey mid-winter is dramatic - the alpiner is stooping to read every lable and pat the plants, whereas the 'regular' breezes through and thinks out loud, "people actually want such little plants in their garden? Don't they use fertilizer?". They're probably right- the tiny androsace really wouldn't survive under that hosta around the light post, and the saxifraga would just disappear beside the hemrocallis - but if they'd try a trough on their deck... maybe it would grow on them!
In my front yard I'm starting my first rock garden, and it's small. Basically it grows when I come across any spare rocks or buy another loader bucket full of sand. I imagine it a large garden with zero grass, but the way it looks now... I think the neighbours just raise their eyebrows. Already I find myself looking out the window, even in the dead of winter, enjoying the shapes that rise out of a mostly boring, poorly maintained (by choice!) lawn. And besides I can plan what I'm going to build and dream about what I want to plant. That's much more exciting then wondering if the lawnmower will fire up again this spring.