One day he happens to meet Laura Conley (Mary Beth Hurt), in the filing department of his office and it is love at first sight.
Incidentally, Laura is a much married woman who has just moved out on her husband Ox, an A-frame salesman, six weeks ago, as she is disillusioned by her own marriage, and wants to find herself.
Charles gathers courage and asks her out and soon she moves in with him. Living with Charles, Laura has never been happier.
But soon she starts having second thoughts as according to her, he loves her too much. "You have this exalted view of me, and I hate it. If you think I'm that great then there must be something wrong with you."
After a while Laura moves back to stepdaughter Rebecca and her husband, who she feels doesn't love her so much to make her uncomfortable.
The movie is a whimsical recollection by Charles over a period of one year of their short-lived love story, when he is being taken over by his obsessive love for Laura.
Meanwhile Sam (Peter Riegert) who has been recently unemployed as a jacket salesman, moves in with Charles as he tries to grapple with the loss of Laura. Charles mother is all but crazy and perpetually suicidal, and the rest of his family is equally eccentric. Charles wants to win Laura back, and his efforts form the substance of the film.